- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 21, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama said Tuesday he expects Israelis and Palestinians to make “gestures of good faith” within months to revive the languishing Mideast peace process.

In remarks to reporters after a meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan, Obama said he remained committed to pushing for a two-state solution: separate Israeli and Palestinian states existing side-by-side in peace.

Former President George W. Bush also had sought a framework for such a deal, but it did not happen before the end of his presidency.

Obama said that his administration and special Mideast envoy George Mitchell had not finished listening to both sides and wanted to give the new Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu more time to formulate policy. But he said all sides in the conflict must overcome the grip of cynicism.

“I agree that we can’t talk forever, that at some point steps have to be taken so that people can see progress on the ground. And that will be something that we will expect to take place in the coming months,” Obama said. “Unfortunately, right now what we’ve seen not just in Israel, but within the Palestinian territories, among the Arab states, worldwide, is a profound cynicism about the possibility of any progress being made whatsoever.”

In his attempt to break the impasse in negotiations, Obama said Netanyahu would be visiting the United States. “I expect to have meetings with him.”

Netanyahu is a hard-liner when it comes to negotiating and has routinely opposed giving up territory captured by Israel in the 1967 war or sharing Jerusalem as a capital for both the Israelis and the Palestinians. Both issues are critical to a settlement.

“My hope would be,” Obama said, “that over the next several months, that you start seeing gestures of good faith on all sides. I don’t want to get into the details of what those gestures might be, but I think that the parties in the region probably have a pretty good recognition of what intermediate steps could be taken as confidence-building measures.”

Since former President Jimmy Carter shepherded a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt to reality nearly three decades ago, the United States has been working to no avail to bring about peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

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