So, things didn’t go so well Tuesday for Barack Obama and his honored guests, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the latter of whom refused to budge on the contentious issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Well, now President Obama is doing some not-budging of his own on the issue, as he told the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday. –KA


“The time has come to re-launch negotiations – without preconditions – that address the permanent-status issues: security… borders, refugees and Jerusalem,” Mr Obama said at the annual UN General Assembly in New York.

He also spoke about the need to break old patterns, in which the US backed Israeli security without insisting it respect legitimate Palestinian rights.

And he condemned some UN member states for “choos[ing] vitriolic attacks” against Israel rather than recognising its “legitimacy and its right to exist in peace and security”.

A few moments earlier he had reiterated that the US “does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements”.

The speech followed a difficult period for US diplomacy, as intensive efforts failed to get the two sides to renew negotiations, which have been suspended since December.

Former Palestinian security chief Mohammad Dahlan said the Palestinians might refuse to accept an invitation from Mr Obama to return negotiations without a freeze in settlements.

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