President Obama is trying his hand at what many U.S. leaders have failed to do, bring peace to the Middle East. On Friday, the President invited both Israeli and Palestinian leaders to attempt face to face talks yet again. His hope is to provide an agreement between the two which will allow for an independent Palestinian state, and provide peace and security for Israel.
Israeli and Palestinian leaders plan to meet September 2nd in Washington, according to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The President will host a dinner for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the evening before the talks.
The goal is to forge a deal that will settle some very difficult issues. These issues include outlining a border for a new Palestinian state, and what will come of Jerusalem, which is considered a holy capital by both.
Clinton stressed that there would be obstacles, and the first one appeared right away. Almost directly after her statement, the militant Hamas group rejected the talks. Hamas is in control of the Gaza Strip.
While face to face negotiations are a breakthrough, it still puts both sides right back where they were the last time the talks began in November of 2007. Those talks ended because of several factors, including Israel’s military operation in Gaza and Netanyahu’s election.
Obama will have individual discussions with each leader on September 1st, prior to the dinner. Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan’s King Abdullah II will be at the dinner as well. Because of the peace deals between Israel, Egypt and Jordan, it is believed that they will have a huge role in support of the talks. British Prime Minister Tony Blair has also been invited.
The day after the dinner, Clinton will bring the Israeli and Palestinian leaders together for their first round of direct talks since 2008. The agenda: where and when to have future talks, and what will be discussed.