Israeli media reveals U.S. president's forthcoming Mideast speech

13:59, May 18, 2011      

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U.S. President Barack Obama will call on Israel to withdraw to the 1967 borders and agree to additional concessions that will enable a resumption of the peace process, Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth revealed on Tuesday.

The newspaper claimed to have obtained a draft of Obama's planned speech at the State Department on Thursday in which he will outline his administration's Middle East policy, in light of the anti-government protests that have swept the region over the past year.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said Sunday that Obama would raise the need for progress in the peace process. However, he did not reveal whether the president planned to present a diplomatic initiative to revive the process, after negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians broke down last September.

According to Yedioth Ahronoth, Obama will call on Israel to withdraw to the 1967 cease-fire lines with territorial adjustments that will be agreed on in the negotiations with the Palestinian National Authority. The president will label the West Bank settlements as "illegal" and emphasize that Israel must halt their construction.

Obama's position on the settlement blocs, which Israel slates to remain under its sovereignty in any peace deal, is yet unclear.

The president is also expected to announce his solution regarding the status of Jerusalem and call for its division. The U. S. envisions the city as the shared capital of the two states, Israel and Palestine, side by side in peace.

Such a stand would essentially echo the so-called "Clinton Parameters" offered by then-president Bill Clinton in 2000, which called predominantly Arab neighborhoods to come under the Palestinian sovereignty while Jewish neighborhoods remaining within the Israeli territories.

Yedioth Ahronoth claimed that the contents of Obama's speech were shared with Netanyahu's national security advisor Ya'akov Amidror and his predecessor Uzi Arad in their recent discussions with senior U.S. officials.


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