Obama Concedes: Maybe it's Time to Pause Talks
US President Barack Obama on Friday summarized Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's unity deal with the terrorist organization, sealed Wednesday, as being "unhelpful."
"The fact that recently President Abbas took the unhelpful step of rejoining talks with Hamas is just one of a series of choices that both Israel and the Palestinians have made which are not conducive to solving this crisis," Obama said.
Obama added that his administration would not be deterred by Israel suspending the peace talks on Thursday in response, and would instead continue backing US Secretary of State John Kerry's push to force through a peace deal, reports AFP.
Nevertheless, Obama said "there comes a point at which there just needs to be a pause and both sides need to look at the alternatives."
"Realistically, there is one door and that is the two parties getting together to make some very difficult compromises," Obama said. "We will continue to encourage them to walk through that door. Do I expect they will walk through that door, next week, next month or even in the course of the next six months? No."
The mild criticism of the PA, balanced by criticism of Israel, echoes State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki, who said Thursday equivocated by saying that both the PA and Israel had taken "unhelpful steps."
"There have been unhelpful steps from both sides throughout this process, whether it’s settlements or the UN or whatever it may be. So they are both – they have both been guilty of that."
Kerry, for his part, called for "compromises" from both sides on Thursday, saying "we will never give up our hope or our commitment for the possibilities of peace."
The equivocation and weak statements on Abbas's joining forces with an internationally recognized terrorist organization have reportedly sparked fury among senior ministers and sources in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's office.
"It's clear that assertiveness is needed from the US to prevent the talks from collapsing. There's anger against the Americans, because they needed to make a firm statement telling Abbas not to make a deal with Hamas and instead to make a deal with Israel," one source revealed.
Another government source told Arutz Sheva, "Abbas chose to sign an agreement with a murderous terror organization that acts against men, women and children, and yearns to harm all citizens of Israel regardless of who they are - it's very strange to get a response like that from this great friend of Israel."