President Obama, speaking today after he met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu separately and before he met with them together, described his message to the two leaders:
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"Despite all the obstacles, despite all the history, despite all the mistrust, we have to find a way forward," Obama said. "We have to summon the will to break the deadlock that has trapped generations of Israelis and Palestinians in an endless cycle of conflict and suffering. ... Success depends on all sides acting with a sense of urgency."
The goal, he said, is a lasting peace with two states: Israel and Palestine.
"It is past time to talk about starting negotiations," he said. "It is time to show the flexibility and common sense and sense of compromise that's necessary to achieve our goals. Permanent status negotiations must begin and begin soon."
Obama lauded progress made so far but insisted it's not enough.
"Palestinians have strengthened their efforts on security, but they need to do more to stop incitement and to move forward with negotiations," he said. "Israelis have facilitated greater freedom of movement for the Palestinians and have discussed important steps to restrain settlement activity. But they need to translate these discussions into real action on this and other issues."
He said Middle East Envoy George Mitchell will meet with negotiators from each side in Washington next week. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will report on the status of the talks in mid-October.
Video after the jump.