President Barack Obama stepped up pressure on Israel to stop expanding settlements as he attempted to reassure visiting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of US support for a Palestinian state.
Obama held talks with Abbas at the White House 10 days after hosting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. President Obama said: “Each party has obligations under the road map, under the Israeli side those obligation includes stopping settlements. They include making sure there is a viable potential Palestinian state.” But the Israeli prime minister has made it clear that he considers settlements to be an internal issue. Netanyahu’s government has rebuffed US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s assertion that all settlement activity must stop, including the “natural growth” of exisitng enclaves, which Netanyahu has vowed to continue. Israel is also planning to allow further construction to accommodate the expansion of settler families. It remains to be seen how far Obama is prepared to push ther Jewish state into making concessions which it shows no sign of willingness to even discuss.