As rival Palestinian factions work to put together a unity government, US President Barack Obama reportedly sent a missive to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday indicating his commitment to reaching a two-state solution for both the Israelis and Palestinians.
Excerpts from the purported letter, conveyed to Abbas through American diplomatic channels, were published by the official Palestinian Authority Wafa news agency.
“As I emphasized during our meeting, the United States remains deeply committed to a negotiated outcome between Palestinians and Israelis that result in an independent, viable, and a contiguous Palestinian state living in peace alongside the state of Israel,” Obama reportedly wrote. “I am hopeful we can continue to work closely together to achieve this goal and further strengthen the bonds between our two peoples.”
The White House was not immediately available for comment on the Wafa news report.
Abbas’s Fatah party announced a reconciliation with rivals Hamas at the end of April as American-mediated peace talks with Israel fell apart. Earlier on Thursday, Fatah and Hamas officials worked to hammer out the final details of the 15-member technocratic unity government. The two sides were reportedly snagged on the issue of who would serve as foreign minister, and Hamas Prime Minister in the Gaza Strip Ismail Haniyeh said a final agreement could take hours or days more.
Last week, a senior White House official reportedly said the US would cooperate with a soon-to-be-formed Palestinian unity government, despite Israeli opposition, so long as it abides by the PLO’s commitments to nonviolence and recognition of the state of Israel. The US’s policy is not to work with Hamas unless it recognizes Israel, gives up terrorism and abides by previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements.