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Obama Speaks to Netanyahu and Abbas About Peace

Obama spoke to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in an effort to keep up the peace momentum.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 8/2/2013, 12:12 AM

Obama, Netanyahu and Abbas meet in New York, 2009
Obama, Netanyahu and Abbas meet in New York, 2009
Flash 90

United States President Barack Obama spoke to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday, several days after peace talks between the sides officially restarted.

The White House said Obama made separate calls to both men in an effort to keep up the momentum.

The PA-based WAFA news agency reported that Obama urged Abbas to make use of the current momentum to reach a deal with Israel and stressed his support of the efforts that led to launching the peace process.

An Abbas aide told WAFA he hoped a deal could be reached in six to nine months.

Abbas reportedly stressed his commitment to a two-state solution and the need to reach a solution in the nearest time possible.

In separate statements with very similar wording following the phone calls with the two men, Obama praised their "leadership and courage" in sending negotiators back to the table this week in Washington for the first time in three years.

Obama noted, in the statement about his call with Netanyahu, that "the parties have much work to do in the days and months ahead," reported AFP.

The president reaffirmed he would support -- and work closely with -- the two groups in their efforts to achieve peace, but only in the statement about his call with Abbas did he mention a peace "based on the two state solution."

On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reaffirmed his government's commitment to a "two-state solution" between Israel and the PA, as he summed up the initial progress made between the sides.

Speaking at a brief news conference with Israeli negotiator Tzipi Livni and PA negotiator Saeb Erekat, Kerry noted was that "all final status issues... core issues and all other issues are all on the table."

Kerry also declared that the meetings - scheduled to restart some time in the next two weeks and continue over the course of nine months - will be held in complete secrecy.

U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday said that he was "hopeful" about the renewed talks. .

Obama, who travelled to Israel in March for his first visit to the region as president, met with Livni and Erekat. He has welcomed the start of new talks as a "promising step" forward, and promised U.S. support as the two sides mull the "hard choices" facing them.