US urges Middle East peace push


Barack Obama, the US president, has called on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to take urgent steps to unblock the Middle East peace process.

The three-way talks, held on Tuesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York, yielded no signs of a breakthrough beyond a handshake between Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, before the summit.

In Obama’s most direct intervention between Israel and the Palestinians since he took office, he said that negotiations on the final status of the two nations must resume.

“We have to find a way forward … success depends on all sides acting with a sense of urgency… It is absolutely critical that we get this issue resolved,” he said.

Tuesday’s meeting marked the first direct talks between Netanyahu and Abbas since the Israeli prime minister took office in March.

Abbas had previously refused to meet Netanyahu until he agreed to stop the illegal construction of Israeli homes on occupied Palestinian land.

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