U.S. Pressures Israel to Start Talks

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JERUSALEM, Israel - U.S. President Barack Obama instructed Mideast envoy George Mitchell to pressure Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to restart negotiations with the Palestinians immediately.
 
Netanyahu, who will respond this week to Obama's June 7 Cairo speech, has stated his readiness to begin talks with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas.
 
On Sunday, Abbas said he would not meet with Netanyahu until he publicly supports the two-state solution and agrees to freeze all settlement construction.

According to Jerusalem Post Palestinian affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh, one PA official said he hoped the differences between the U.S. and Israeli governments would bring down the Netanyahu administration.

"This is a radical government that does not accept the two-state solution and insists on building settlements," the official said.

Meanwhile, during Obama's visit to Riyadh last week, Saudi King Abdullah told the U.S. President to get tough with Netanyahu, calling the establishment of a Palestinian state the "magic key" to solving all issues in the Middle East, according to the Saudi newspaper al-Hayat.
 
"We want from you a serious participation to solve the Palestinian issue and impose the solution if necessary," Abdullah told Obama, the newspaper stated.
 
The 2002 Saudi-initiated Arab peace plan calls on Israel to cede areas that came under its sovereignty in the 1967 Six Day War - Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), the Golan Heights and east Jerusalem (and the Gaza Strip, now controlled by the Hamas faction of the Palestinian Authority) - in exchange for Arab League member nations recognizing its right to exist.
 
The plan also endorses the "right of return" for descendants of some 500,000 Arabs who fled the country at the behest of their leadership during the 1948 War of Independence.
 
The Saudi plan calls for an estimated five million Arabs to return to what it envisions as Israel's truncated borders, thereby destroying the Jewish state demographically.
 
Sources: Haaretz, israel national news

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