US President Barack Obama called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday and praised both leaders for their roles in this week’s resumption of peace talks. He also urged them to “move fast” and make “speedy progress” toward a permanent accord, according to a White House source quoted by Army Radio.
In nearly identical press releases from the White House regarding the two phone calls, Obama was said to have commended both Netanyahu and Abbas for their “leadership and courage in resuming final-status negotiations.”
In his conversation with the PA president, Obama pledged his support in achieving peace based on the two-state solution, according to the press release. The reference to two states was notably missing from the statement posted regarding his call with Netanyahu, however, in which the US president and the Israeli prime minister agreed to continue the close coordination between their two countries on regional issues.
On Tuesday night, US Secretary of State John Kerry publicly marked the launch of talks between Israelis and Palestinians by saying that all issues would be tackled in nine months of negotiations and that he believed a permanent peace accord could be reached in that time.
Speaking to Channel 2 news on Wednesday, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who has been tasked with spearheading peace negotiations, said the sides would know within a far shorter period of time whether or not they’ll be able to reach an agreement.
“I believe the nine-month time frame is only a marginal issue,” Livni said. “If after one month we see that the talks aren’t headed anywhere we won’t pursue them, but on the other hand if we reach an agreement in a shorter period of time we will of course not dismiss that.”
Adiv Sterman contributed to this report.