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Obama insists on “two state” solution

Tripartite Meeting Launched With Handshake and Admonition

by Hana Levi Julian

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas began with a handshake and an admonition by the American leader.

In a choreographed gesture that mirrored similar moves by former Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin and then-PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, and former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Netanyahu shook hands with PA Chairman Abbas following remarks to the media by the U.S. president.

Reporters in attendance duly noted it was the first time the two men had ever done so.

The event, which launched the trilateral meeting at New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel, followed remarks by Obama in which he told journalists that final status talks between Israel and the PA must start — soon.

“Despite all the obstacles, all the history, all the mistrust,” Obama said, “we have to find a forward. Permanent negotiations must begin, and begin soon.” The American president appeared to be slightly impatient, saying, “It is past time to stop talking about starting negotiations, and time to move forward, time to show the flexibility, common sense and compromise which is necessary to achieve our goals.”

Obama made it clear his administration would not back down from the two-state solution. “The United States is committed to a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East, which will result in two states living side by side — Palestine and Israel.” However, he also pointed out that it was “important for the Arab states to take steps to promote peace in the region.”

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