Israel must halt West Bank settlement activity and the Palestinians need to increase West Bank security to advance the Middle East peace process, President Obama said Thursday after meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, left, meets with President Obama Thursday.
"I am confident that we can take this process forward if all the parties are willing to ... meet all the obligations that they have committed to," Obama said after meeting with Abbas at the White House.
Abbas said his Palestinian Authority was committed to fulfilling its obligations under the 2003 Middle East road map, and both men called for immediate progress in the peace process.
The talks came days before Obama is scheduled to meet with Saudi King Abdullah in Riyadh and deliver a long-awaited speech on relations between the United States and the Muslim world in Cairo, Egypt
Last week, Obama pushed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a firm Israeli commitment to Palestinian statehood as part of the so-called two-state solution -- a position strongly advocated Thursday by Abbas.
Netanyahu has committed to removing illegal settlement "outposts" but has also pledged to continue expansion, or "natural growth," of existing settlements.