Obama to meet with Abbas at U.N.

WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Obama will meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the U.N.  General Assembly.

A top U.S. official said the meeting in New York was a sign of the president’s commitment to renewed peace talks.

“This is the president’s first opportunity to meet personally and at length with President Abbas since the launch of direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians,” Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, said of the meeting to take place Tuesday following Obama’s speech to the General Assembly. “So the president will have an opportunity to hear firsthand from President Abbas about the progress of those negotiations.”

Rhodes, speaking Friday in a conference call outlining Obama’s activities this week at the United Nations, noted that the president also will be meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sept. 30 at the White House.

“This is an important opportunity for him to reinforce the support of the United States for the progress that is underway towards Middle East peace, to welcome the courageous steps that have been taken by both leaders, while also reinforcing the need to continue to make progress given the opportunity that is presented through these negotiations,” Rhodes said.

Netanyahu and Obama originally were slated to meet at the United Nations this week. Instead, Netanyahu will deliver his U.N. speech on Oct. 1, a day after he meets with Obama in Washington.