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White House: No new Obama peace plan

Feb. 7, 2013 1:14 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 8, 2013 1:24 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- US President Barack Obama will not propose any "specific" Middle East peace proposal during his upcoming visit to the region, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday.

The new administration in Washington and new government in Israel made this spring "an opportune time for a visit like this that is not focused on specific Middle East peace process proposals," he said.

"I'm sure that any time the President and Prime Minister have a discussion, certainly any time the President has a discussion with leaders of the Palestinian Authority, that those issues are raised. But that is not the purpose of this visit."

On Wednesday the Israeli news site Ynet quoted US diplomatic sources saying that Washington was determined to renew peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

One source, according to the site, said that Obama's visit was meant to make clear that the US has no intention of neglecting the peace process and that it intends to renew its involvement in the near future.

The Palestinian leadership has welcomed Obama’s plans to visit the region.

President Mahmoud Abbas' spokesman Nabil Abu Rdeina told Ma'an on Wednesday that "the visit reflects that the US is willing to achieve peace in the region."

The Palestinian leadership, added Abu Rdeina, hopes the US efforts this time will be decisive and serious. "We wish the US administration will exert pressure on Israel to stop settlement expansion in order to lay the ground for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the Palestinian territory within the borders before June 4, 1967."

He added: "The visit is a positive indicator, but we need deeds and real US pressure on Israel rather than meetings. We need a new US policy."

Abu Rdeina said the Palestinians expected renewed efforts to restart the peace process following a phone call to Abbas on Monday by newly-appointed US secretary of state John Kerry.
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