White House hails Netanyahu speech as 'important step forward'

President Obama welcomes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's endorsement of a Palestinian State during a speech on Sunday.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that the president saw the speech, in which Netanyahu backed a Palestinian state for the first time in exchange for the disarmament of that state, was an "important step forward" in the Mideast peace process.

"The President welcomes the important step forward in Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech," Gibbs said in a statement.

The Associated Press reported that Netanyahu had been under "intense pressure" from Obama to make such an endorsement, which has been a sticking point in the peace process for years.

"He believes this solution can and must ensure both Israel's security and the fulfillment of the Palestinians' legitimate aspirations for a viable state, and he welcomes Prime Minister Netanyahu's endorsement of that goal," Gibbs said of Obama's reaction.

Gibbs said that the U.S. was also committed to working with involved parties to achieve peace and "comprehensive regional peace."

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