Report: Obama to press Arab-backed plan to restart Mideast peace talks

President Obama is looking to revive a decade-old initiative in an attempt to kickstart stalled Israel-Palestinian peace talks.

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Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to pitch the so-called Arab Peace Initiative during his trip to the region next week, according to a published report.

Leaders from Saudi Arabia first proposed the plan in 2002 and again in 2007, when the George W. Bush administration attempted to forge an Israeli-Palestinian peace pact.

The initiative calls for the normalization of relations between Israel and the Arab world, in exchange for the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state.

Jerusalem would also agree to withdraw its forces from the occupied territories of the Golan Heights, Gaza Strip and the West Bank under the terms of the deal.

Obama and Kerry discussed implementing the plan with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during a meeting at the Palestinian Authority's headquarters in Ramallah in March.

Obama reportedly told Palestinian leaders the Arab Peace Initiative would be the backbone for his administration's efforts to restart peace talks in the region.

"It was raised directly by Obama during his visit and during his closed-door discussion with the Palestinian leadership," a Palestinian official involved in the talks told McClatchy Newspapers on Saturday.

"It was made clear to the Palestinian leadership that this would be the new direction of U.S. diplomacy," the official added.

Kerry is expected to return to Ramallah, as well as meet with Israeli leaders in Jerusalem, during a two-day visit beginning Sunday.

Sunday's trip will be the third time Kerry has traveled to the region since replacing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Obama is also expected to hold one-on-one meetings with the leaders Qatar, Jordan and Turkey at the White House next week.

Early efforts by the Obama administration to pursue a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace deal fell apart early in the president's first term.

U.S., Israeli and Palestinian negotiators had been making progress at that time, but Jerusalem's continued expansion of Israeli settlements into the occupied territories forced Ramallah to break off the talks.

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