WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama has ruled out the possibility of renewing Israeli-Palestinian peace talks before the end of his term in 2016, according to a statement Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes made while speaking to the press Thursday night.
Rhodes' comments come just days before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to arrive in Washington for talks with Obama, who the deputy said does not currently see any chance for a two state solution.
The security official cited attempts at direct as well as indirect talks as failures. Both sides, he said, failed to take the steps required to produce an agreement.
According to Rhodes, Obama does not plan on attempting to pressure Netanyahu to peace talks during his visit. Instead, the president plans to discuss ways to stymie the wave of violence that has engulfed namely the West Bank and East Jerusalem over the past several weeks."
Rhodes said this could be accomplished by taking "trust-building steps" to release tension and decrease incitement. He included that the Obama administration expects to hear from Netanyahu what steps Israel is prepared to take toward meeting the "aspirations" of the Palestinian people.
The deputy national security advisor specifically cited Israel's West Bank settlements as an Issue that Obama feels has damaged trust and the chances for an agreement.
According to Robert Malley, Obama's Middle East advisor, Rhodes' statement marks the first time since the Clinton administration that Israel-Palestinian peace negotiations have been taken off the table of foreign policy priorities.