Obama, Abbas to huddle on peace framework

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will visit President Obama at the White House next month, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Thursday.

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The president is expected to appeal to Abbas to accept a framework peace deal being drafted by Secretary of State John Kerry during the March 17 meeting.

"The president looks forward to reviewing with President Abbas the progress in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations," Carney said in a statement. "They will also discuss our continuing effort to work cooperatively to strengthen the institutions that can support the establishment of a Palestinian state."

The announcement comes just a week after The Times of Israel, citing a report in the Arabic-language Palestinian newspaper, Al Quds, reported that Kerry upset Abbas during a discussion of his proposed peace deal. The Palestinian leader reportedly was angered by Kerry's proposal for how to establish a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem, as well as his proposed borders for a Palestinian state.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected at the White House next week.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Wednesday that there was "no doubt that the conversation that they’ll be having on Monday is an important one."

"It’s an indication of how much of a priority it is for the president and for the rest of his administration to ensure that we’re working closely and coordinating with Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli government as we confront the variety of challenges that pose a threat to some instability in the Middle East," Earnest said.

The New York Times reported on Thursday that Obama planned to more aggressively market the peace deal being drafted by Kerry, who has visited the region 11 times since becoming secretary of State.

"Now is a very timely opportunity for him to get involved,” a senior administration official told the paper.

"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."

Carney said Thursday that the U.S. had been making a "concerted effort" to "assist Israel and the Palestinians as they make progress in their negotiations."

"Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas have already made courageous, difficult decisions, and that is a testament to their determination to try and resolve this issue," Carney said.

The White House spokesman said the meetings were "opportunities for the president to take stock of where we are and to work through the details with them."

"The parties are talking about the core issues, including borders, security, Jerusalem, refugees, mutual recognition, an end of conflict and an end of claims," Carney said. "Those are the core issues that need to be resolved for a peace agreement to be reached."

 

This story was updated at 1:09 p.m.