Settlements Top Talk of Obama, Abbas Meeting

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President Barack Obama welcomed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the White House, Thursday.

Israeli settlements topped the list of talking points between the two leaders.

Obama and Abbas both want Israelis to stop new settlement construction on disputed land in the West Bank, but Thursday the Israeli government said it will continue the construction.

Abbas' visit follows last week's meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House.  Following these high profile meetings with Middle East leaders, the Obama administration says it will present detailed plans to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Egypt's foreign minister.  Following the meeting, Clinton used some of the most direct and blunt language to date on the question of Israeli settlements.  

"With respect to settlements, the president was very clear when Prime Minister Netanyahu was here. He wants to see a stop to settlements.  Not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions," she said. "We think it is in the best interest of the effort that we are engaged in, that settlement expansion cease. That is our position."

"That is what we have communicated very clearly, not only to the Israelis but to the Palestinians and others and we intend to press that point," she added.

Clinton's statement challenges the thousands of Jews who have chosen to live in the West Bank or what they believe is Israel's biblical inheritance, Judea and Samaria.

"This is the Jewish state, and with all due respect to Mrs. Clinton, it is none of her business to tell Israel what to do with her settlements," said Hanna Failer, a settler living at Beit El.

The settlement issue puts Netanyahu between the demands of the Obama administration and the desire of his own coalition government to preserve those Israeli communities.

On the Israeli-Palestinian issue, Netanyahu has said he's willing to talk immediately with the Palestinians.  However, he sees the threat of Iran as a much more immediate danger to Israel and the rest of the world. 

Next week, Obama may address the Iranian issue when he visits Cairo to deliver a major address to the Muslim world.  He also plans to visit Saudi Arabia, but has no plans to visit Israel during his Mideast trip.

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CBN News
Chris Mitchell

Chris Mitchell

CBN News Middle East Bureau Chief

In a time where the world's attention is riveted on events in the Middle East, CBN viewers have come to appreciate Chris Mitchell's timely reports from this explosive region of the world. Mitchell brings a Biblical and prophetic perspective to these daily news events that shape our world.