Israeli media is reporting that President Obama will pressure Israel on his upcoming trip to Israel, which is scheduled for later this month.
"Obama reportedly told the Jewish leaders he would speak extensively about the peace process with Israel’s leaders, and would make clear that Israel’s desire for an accommodation with the Palestinians needed to be underpinned by concrete steps. He will be asking Israel 'which tough steps it will be willing to take,' the report said," the Times of Israel reports. The report cites Israel’s Channel 10 news station.
The comments from Obama came today at a meeting at the White House with Jewish leaders.
The Times of Israel adds:
At the same time, Obama told the Jewish leaders Thursday he would make clear that he recognizes how much more unstable the Middle East has become, and would highlight the US’s iron-clad commitment to Israel, the report said.
Obama also reportedly said that he was still committed to seeking a diplomatic solution to thwart Iran’s nuclear drive if possible.
The TV report also said Obama was hoping to arrange a four-way summit during his trip, attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Jordan’s King Abdullah and the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Netanyahu and Abdullah were said to have agreed to attend. Abbas was conditioning his participation on some kind of commitment — “even a hint” — that Israel was ready to freeze settlement building en route to resuming substantive negotiations. Without such a commitment, Abbas would content himself with a one-on-one meeting with Obama, the report said.
The US was making “immense efforts” to arrange the summit, Channel 10 reported, adding that Obama’s advance team would arrive in Israel on Sunday to finalize the itinerary for the trip, his first as president, which is set to start on March 20.