December 07, 2013, 03:47 pm
Obama sees Israeli-Palestinian deal within months
By Erik Wasson
President Obama has an ambitious timetable for wrapping up a Middle East peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.
Obama said that an outline of a deal could be agreed to the 60-year standoff early next year.
"I think it is possible over the next several months to arrive at a framework," he said at a Brooking Institution event. "We are now at a place where we can achieve a two-state solution."
Obama said that retired U.S. General John Allen has conducted a security study and concluded that Israel can live securely alongside a new Palestine. He noted that Allen is not the decision maker and it will be up to Israel's leaders.
Asked how Israel can make a deal when the Palestinians are themselves divided, Obama said that the deal would have to take place in "stages." He said there would have to be a trial period where the Palestinians did not get everthing they want and Israel can measure whether the West Bank turns into a more violent enclave.
Obama said "tough decisions" would have to be taken on both sides. Historically the status of Jersusalem, exact borders, economic assistance and the return of Palestinian refugees have been the major sticking points.