"I think it's important not to assume the worst, but to assume the best," Obama said in the Oval Office, sitting alongside Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Obama said Netanyahu needed time to work on the issue back home, and the U.S. president said he was not willing to base his decisions on a week-old conversation.
Obama and Abbas met privately before being joined by their delegations.
The U.S. president made clear he expected commitments to be upheld by the Palestinians, too, including enhanced security in the West Bank so that Israelis have confidence they're safe there. Obama said he asked Abbas to reduce anti-Israeli sentiments that can be easily stoked in schools, mosques and the public square.
Said Abbas: "We are fully committed to all of our obligations."
Obama, like predecessor George W. Bush, embraces a multifaceted Mideast peace plan that calls for a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Obama refused to set a timetable for such a nation but also noted he has not been slow to get involved in meeting with both sides and pushing the international community for help.
"We can't continue with the drift, with the increased fear and resentment on both sides, the sense of hopelessness around the situation that we've seen for many years now," Obama said. "We need to get this thing back on track."
NEW YORK AND TRI-STATE AREA NEWS
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