US President Barack Obama urged the Palestinians to move to direct negotiations as soon as possible in a phone call with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday.
Obama said that the two sides need to “negotiate seriously and in good faith” and stressed his intention "to hold both sides accountable for actions that undermine trust during the talks,” according to a statement put out by the White House following the call.
The statement also noted that Obama looked forward to hosting Abbas at the White House in the near feature, making official a meeting reported for weeks to be in the works.
The administration has long sought direct negotiations between the two sides, but Obama nevertheless hailed the start of indirect talks and congratulated Abbas upon their launch. He also praised Abbas for reaching out to the Israeli people in a recent interview on Israel television and called on the Palestinian leader to do “everything he can” to prevent acts of incitement and delegitimization of Israel.
Obama was joined in welcoming the start of indirect talks by the
Quartet, or US, EU, UN and Russia.
The group, meeting in New York
Tuesday, put out a statement calling the new discussions “a significant
step toward direct, bilateral negotiations and comprehensive peace in
the Middle East.”
The Quartet also called for “good faith” talks
and urged “all concerned to promote an atmosphere conducive to the talks
and to act on the basis of previous agreements and obligations.”