White House denies it will go public with outline for Israeli-Palestinian talks

Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The White House denied a report that it was contemplating jump-starting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks by advancing its own solution.

“There has been no change to our policy or strategy with regard to this issue,” a White House official told JTA, responding to a Wall Street Journal article posted Monday describing plans under consideration by the Obama administration to announce publicly what the United States would consider the acceptable parameters of a final-status arrangement.

The outline, the story said, could include making the 1967 lines the basis for a two-state solution, Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and Israeli recognition of eastern Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital.

According to the Journal, the Obama administration could reveal its plans through U.S. support for a United Nations Security Council resolution; a major speech by President Barack Obama, perhaps at the U.N. General Assembly opening in September, or a statement by the Quartet, the body comprising the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union that has guided Middle East peacemaking since the early 2000s.

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The White House official, in an email to JTA, hewed to the position that Obama administration officials have taken since the collapse in April 2014 of the last round of U.S.-brokered talks: Solutions must come through negotiations between the sides.

“Our position has been clear,” the official said. “We believe a two-state solution is absolutely vital for peace between Israelis and Palestinians and will only come through negotiations.”

The official said the Obama administration would continue to urge both sides to return to the table and not to act unilaterally.

“We continue to encourage Israelis and Palestinians to take affirmative steps which we think are important to stop the violence, improve conditions on the ground, and restore confidence in the two-state solution,” the statement said. “We also continue to engage with our partners to find a constructive way forward in terms of advancing our shared goal of a two-state solution.”