Following a private meeting between Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and US President Barack Obama on Wednesday at the White House, the US leaders expressed his concern over the future of peace talks and the viability of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s leadership.
Rivlin stated that Obama “expressed his concern over the future to come as well as the future of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas,” which rumors have indicated he may be considering resigning or dissolving the PA due to lack of progress in peace talks.
“The president was very open, very sincere and very clear in his words to me,” Rivlin told the media. “The president expressed both his concern and his uncompromising commitment to Israel.”
In the midst of ongoing terror attacks against Israelis, Obama called on Abbas to condemn the violence as a sign of goodwill towards Israel.
“I have been very clear in condemning the violence that is reoccurring inside of Israel, the need for leaders like President Abbas to unequivocally condemn violence which has been taking place, the need to end incitement, but also the need for Israelis and Palestinians to find mechanisms in which to dialogue and arrive at peace,” Obama said.
While the US president has indicated in previous statements that he would tackle Mideast peace talks during the last year of his presidency, Rivlin revealed that Obama “did not seem optimistic about the possibility of restarting talks with the Palestinians.”
“The Americans can help, but they see little chance to restart talks. The president agreed with me we need to build trust. They will check if both sides can make gestures that could bring the two nations closer and that could result in new negotiations,” the Israeli leader stated.
In a statement released by the White House regarding the meeting, Obama “highlighted that the United States would continue to urge Israeli and Palestinian leaders to take the significant steps necessary to enable the possibility of peace.”
“The President saluted President Rivlin for his efforts to combat extremism of any kind and to promote tolerance and understanding between communities; he also heralded his commitment to equal and fair treatment for all citizens of Israel,” the statement added.
Wednesday evening, following the private meeting, Rivlin took part in the official White House Hanukkah menorah candle lighting ceremony. Before the event, Rivlin compared Obama to the “helper” candle of the menorah, known as the shamash, which is used to light all the other candles.
“We know, Mr. President, that you have lit the candle for the last seven years to show the right way for your people, and for the entire world, and we are very sure that the eighth candle that you will light in the next year will be same, and show the whole world how to fight what we should not accept,” he said.