— Troubled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks take center stage Monday at the White House when President Barack Obama with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
A deadline is looming at the end of April for a framework peace agreement. The proposed framework would cover the thorniest issues of the conflict: the status of Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, Jewish settlements, security and the final borders of a Palestinian state.
The United States is pressing both sides to compromise, but expectations are low and gaps are wide.
Palestinian spokesman Ahmed Assaf says his side will accept nothing less than a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Israel says the '67 lines are indefensible and it has vowed not to compromise on Jerusalem, saying the entire city is its eternal capital.
Another stumbling block is Israel’s demand to be recognized as a Jewish state. Abbas has refused, saying that would harm the rights of Israeli Arabs as well as the “right of return” of Palestinian refugees to their former homes in Israel.
So after more than seven months of U.S.-mediated peace talks, there is growing pessimism and acrimony.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said the Palestinian president is "not a partner" for a final peace agreement that would end the conflict, adding that Abbas is “a partner who wants to take but does not want to give.”
President Obama met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House two weeks ago and urged him to make “hard decisions” for peace; and he will have the same message for Abbas. The United States hopes a framework deal will prevent the collapse of the peace process and enable negotiations on a final agreement to continue until the end of the year.
Palestinian Leader to Visit White House: