With Netanyahu [and a hologram of Arafat] at his side, Obama said he had told the new Israeli leader during more than two-hours of talks that his government must move quickly to resume peace talks with the Palestinians and had insisted negotiations start from a previous agreement on the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.The Arafat hologram seemed pleased by this, but have any Palestinian leaders offered anything in exchange for a settlement freeze?
"We have seen progress stalled on this front, and I suggested to the prime minister that he has a historic opportunity to get a serious movement on this issue during his tenure," Obama said. "That means that all the parties involved [especially the Arafat hologram] have to take seriously obligations that they have previously agreed to."
Obama told reporters that serious negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians would be possible only if Netanyahu ordered an end to the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, land that would make up the Palestinian state along with the Gaza Strip.
"There is a clear understanding that we have to make progress on settlements; that settlements have to be stopped in order for us to move forward," Obama said, referring to past negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians.
Netanyahu said he was ready to resume peace talks with the Palestinians immediately but he also said any agreement depended on their acceptance of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. It was not immediately clear in the way he phrased the response whether Netanyahu was demanding that as a precondition for talks.So there's still hope.