President Obama will reportedly urge Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accept a framework for peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians when Netanyahu visits the White House next week.
The New York Times reports that Obama will make a similar push when he meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in late March. The framework for a new round of talks is being drafted by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
The report emerged as both sides approach the end-of-April deadline to agree to a final peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians, which Kerry set last summer. Due to the fitful progress of the talks, officials told the Times that the new goal is to announce the framework by the deadline.
Since helping to launch a new round of talks this past July, Kerry has made 11 trips to the region, but U.S. officials told the Times that the White House believes that the time is right for Obama to make a new push.
"The president wouldn’t want to run any risk that it was the lack of his involvement that would make the difference between success and failure," one senior official told the paper.
Kerry's attempts at diplomacy have been met with skepticism from some quarters on both sides of the conflict. Earlier this month, the Secretary of State gave a speech warning of "an increasing de-legitimization campaign" against the Jewish state, which led some members of Netanyahu's coalition to accuse Kerry of being anti-Semitic. Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman defended Kerry, calling him "a true friend of Israel."
On Wednesday, the Times of Israel, citing a report in the Arabic-language Palestinian newspaper, Al Quds, reported that Abbas left a meeting with Kerry in Paris last week fuming over the latter's proposals. Among the issues that reportedly upset Abbas were Kerry's insistence that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people, his proposal to establish the capital of a Palestinian state in only one part of East Jerusalem, and leaving the Jordan Valley outside the borders of a future Palestinian state.