Barack Obama 'to visit Jerusalem and Ramallah to press for peace'
President Barack Obama will visit Jerusalem in coming months to press for a Middle East peace deal to be signed this year and implemented within a decade, according to a leaked White House report.http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/israel/7967953/Barack-Obama-to-visit-Jerusalem-and-Ramallah-to-press-for-peace.html
The US president's peace plan calls for Israel and the Palestinian Authority to hold a series of regular meetings over the coming year.
Mr Obama, who set Middle East peace as one of his top foreign policy goals when he assumed office in 2009, will make his first visit as president to Israel and the West Bank to persuade both sides to agree to concessions for the sake of peace.
Mr Obama will oversee the relaunch of direct talks between the two sides next week in Washington.
Although Washington is pushing for a comprehensive peace deal within 12 months, implementation will be spread out over a 10-year period, according to a report in Yediot Aharonot, the Israeli newspaper.
Washington wants the intensive talks to cover core issues, including borders, refugees and the future status of Jerusalem, according to the leaked White House protocols of a conference call held this week between senior administration officials and American Jewish leaders.
If the sides fail to reach an agreement on a particular issue, US officials will intervene and offer a compromise, the report said.
At the same time, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, and Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, will meet regularly, the paper reported, citing the leaked report.
Such a strategy should appeal to Mr Netanyahu, who has proposed face-to-face talks with Mr Abbas every fortnight.
"Real negotiations in the Middle East are only direct, quiet and continuous talks between the leaders on the fundamental issues. This is why I offered to hold the talks in this format", he said on Thursday.
Washington will introduce its own bridging proposals if the sides reach a deadlock in the talks.
American pressure will also be exerted on friendly Arab states to make moves towards normalisation of relations with Israel.
However, the US president will have a difficult task ahead of him, as Israeli and American officials are still debating how to breach the first major hurdle expected in the talks: the end of Israel's 10-month West Bank settlement freeze on September 26th.