‘Obama gives deadline to Israel for Palestine’

Washington, June 09: US President Barack Obama gives Israel a two-year deadline for the finalization of a two-state solution amid sharply opposing positions in Washington and Tel Aviv over the issue of Palestinian statehood.

President Obama raised the issue of an independent Palestinian state with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the Israeli official’s visit to Washington last month, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

According to the report, the plan envisions a Middle East peace deal by 2011.

Haaretz quoted a source in Cairo as telling the London-based A-Sharq al-Awsat that Israel’s Netanyahu is expected to respond to the proposal within six weeks.

President Obama, who was in Egypt last week to address the Arab and Muslim world, discussed his proposed plan with Egyptian intelligence chief Omer Suleiman and Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

The US president has urged the Netanyahu government to set up a Palestinian state and has been “very clear about the need to stop building settlements, to stop building outposts” on occupied Palestinian territories.

Snubbing international calls to halt its settlement expansion, Israel seems adamant to stubbornly pursue the activities.

Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai declared on Sunday that he would use all resources in the Interior Ministry, “its branches and its influences over local government” to expand Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The Israeli premier, for his part, has halted all Israeli-Palestinian negotiations aimed at the creation of an independent Palestine and has called previous US-backed agreements into question.

In April, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman sparked controversy by saying that Tel Aviv is not bound by the 2007 US-sponsored Annapolis deal, under which Israel agreed to the creation of a Palestinian state.