US President Barack Obama has given himself two years for a diplomatic breakthrough on a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians, the London-based Sunday Times reported.
According to the report, during his scheduled speech in Cairo this week Obama will offer his personal commitment to “change the conversation” with the Muslim world.
Obama's Mideast tour will begin with a meeting with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh on Wednesday to discuss the Arab peace initiative and relations with Iran before he arrives in Egypt the next day, the Times said.
The Times quoted White House advisers as saying that Obama would “take on the tough issues”, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and offer to bridge differences with Muslims based on “mutual interests and mutual respect” - the same words used in his address to the Turkish parliament last month.
The report said that the goal of two states living side by side, with the holy sites in Jerusalem under international jurisdiction, is to receive a new push by Obama.
“Some of the things that you will hear in the speech are returning to proven and effective policies and initiatives that have . . . served the national interest well in the past,” Denis McDonough, Obama’s foreign policy adviser, was quoted as saying.
On Friday Obama met in the White House with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and reiterated his demand that Israel freeze all settlement construction and the Palestinians renounce terror and dismantle terror infrastructure.
He called on both the Palestinians and Israelis to take trust-building measures in an effort to jump-start the peace process.
Upon his return to the Middle East, Abbas said he was making strong diplomatic efforts to renew the dialogue between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.
Speaking at a Cairo press conference Saturday after meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Abbas said the problem now was that the Israeli side had not yet formed a policy regarding the renewal of talks. "We were told it would happen soon," he said.
"This will happen within weeks, which means that by early July something should happen on this front," the Palestinian leader said without specifying a date for the renewal of negotiations.