US President Barack Obama plans to hold talks with Turkish and Israeli leaders to try to resume peace talks in the Middle East. He says this is an attempt to reduce what he calls escalating regional tensions surrounding the Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations, slated to take place this Friday. He will also be discussing Arab uprisings in Syria and Libya, according to the Qatar-based news agency Al-Jazeera. The White House announced Sunday that Obama will be holding talks with the Turkish Prime Minister, Rajab Tayyeb Erdogan, and the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, outside the UN General Assembly meetings to be held in New York at the end of the week.
He will be calling on the parties concerned to address the political conflict caused by the Israeli killing of Turkish citizens and one American aboard an aid ship headed to the Gaza Strip in 2010. The crisis deepened the growing isolation of Israel in the region.
“We have encouraged both Turkey and Israel – our close allies – to solve the outstanding issue between them, and we will have the opportunity to discuss those issues with the two parties’, the spokesman of the National Security Council at the White House, Ben Rhodes, told reporters.
These talks will be held outside the UN General Assembly meetings which will be discussing the Palestinian bid for statehood this week, which is being met by Israeli objection and the US threat of veto against the bid. All other countries in the Middle East have expressed their support for the Palestinian bid, along with at least 140 countries worldwide. Only the US and Israel have publicly voiced opposition.
Obama’s meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will be based on how to resume the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, which stalled last year when Israeli territorial expansion onto Palestinian land in the West Bank and Jerusalem continued unabated in violation of Israeli promises. The meeting is expected to be held on Tuesday or Wednesday, Ben Rhodes stated.
According to Rhodes, his meeting would be the first chance between them to heal the rift which broke in last May at the White House when Obama insisted on resuming negotiations for a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders.
Rhodes further said that Obama would urge both the Israeli government and the occupied Palestinian Authority to resume peace talks during his speech to the world’s leaders at the UN General Assembly. He also will urge other US allies in the Middle East, Turkey and Egypt, to make progress in their affairs with Israel.
In addition, the White House spokesman said the peace process in the Middle East would be on Obama’s agenda during bilateral talks with the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, and the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, to be held on Wednesday.
Obama’s meetings will be held outside the UN General Assembly and Security Council annual meetings which start on the 20th of September. Moreover, the Palestinian bid for full membership in the United Nations will be at the top of the agenda for both UN bodies.