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US Stepping up the Pressure on Israel, Palestinians

A New York Times article headlined “Obama Turns to the Middle East” is making waves in Jerusalem and Ramallah. The article says that President Obama is planning a full-court-press to get both Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to agree to the “framework” agreement that Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to announce in the next few weeks.

Netanyahu will meet the President at the White House next week, and Abbas is expected to follow later in the month. According to the Times, the President is prepared to get more involved in trying to get an agreement that will detail the borders of Israel and the Palestinian state, the future of Jerusalem, and any return of Palestinian refugees.

Once the framework is presented, talks would then begin on implementing it, taking the two sides well past the April deadline. Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat today said that extending negotiations is uselss as long as Isarel “continues to disregard international law.” He was apparently referring to Israel’s continued building in areas it acquired in 1967.