WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama is set to give his next political speech at 6pm Thursday, just hours before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leaves for Washington and according to a draft of the speech, obtained by Yedioth Ahronoth, the American president's Middle East policy, though unwavering, may not be as discordant as some have feared.Obama is expected to urge Israel to return to the 1967 lines while negating the Palestinian Authority's planned unilateral bid for statehood in September.
According to the draft – which may change again by Thursday – Obama will call on Jerusalem and Ramallah to reignite the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, saying it is the only way to achieve viable peace.
Obama stands to demand the Palestinian Authority recognize Israel as the Jewish state, and that the Palestinians unequivocally abandon terror.
He is also likely to stress Israel must cease any settlement expansion in the West Bank and further avoid any act which could be construed as changing the status quo on the ground.
The subject of Jerusalem also stands to be included in the American president's speech: Washington sees the city as the capital of both Israel and the Palestinian state, with its east Jerusalem neighborhoods – which are largely populated by Palestinians – under the PA's sovereignty, and its Jewish neighborhoods under Israeli sovereignty.
Following Netanyahu's vehement speech before the Knesset plenum Sunday, it seems Washington has decided to lower its expectations of Netanyahu.
Still, State Department Spokesman Mark Toner said that the White House was not "as pessimistic" as reported, adding that the peace process "faces immense challenges."
Attila Somfalvi and Shimon Shiffer contributed to this report
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