- The Washington Times - Monday, March 25, 2013

The United States will take a lead role in restarting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, said one senior Palestinian official on Monday.

The claim comes just after President Obama wrapped his first trip ever as a president to Israel — a largely diplomatic mission to welcome in the new government. The White House insisted several times in the lead-up to this that he was not focused on starting peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Now, it seems, the White House would like to open official peace talks, said Yasser Abed-Rabbo, a top Palestinian Liberation Organization official, in a report from The Associated Press.

One major point of contention is settlement building, AP reports. Palestinians insist that Israel halt all building on properties it captured during the Six Day War in 1967 as a condition of starting talks. Israel, however, wants to move forward with discussions and says the settlement issue can be part of the talks.

AP reports that Mr. Obama took Israel’s side on the settlement issue during his visit last week.

Despite these conflicting views, the U.S. will join with other Arab countries to bring to fruition a peace deal, Mr. Abed-Rabbo said.

“U.S. efforts will increase in coming weeks and will include other Arab parties, such as Jordan and Egypt,” Abbed-Rabbo told Voice of Palestine radio. He also said an Arab League delegation is scheduled to visit top officials in Washington to further these efforts, AP reports.



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