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Ex-envoys urge Obama to push for two states

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Four former U.S. ambassadors to the Middle East have signed a letter to President Obama urging an "active U.S. role" in pushing for a two-state solution.

The letter, under the auspices of the Israel Policy Forum, was signed by Samuel Lewis, a former ambassador to Israel; Robert Pelletreau, a former ambassador to Egypt; Thomas Pickering, a former ambassador to Israel and Jordan; and Edward Walker, a former ambassador to Israel and Egypt. Israel Policy Forum leaders also signed.

The letter urges the president to ask the Middle East leaders he meets with in the next few weeks — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas are all scheduled to visit the White House before the end of the month — "to do their respective parts to meet five achievable goals."

The goals include "an immediate renewal of U.S.-mediated Israeli-Palestinian negotiations toward the establishment of a Palestinian state"; the "cessation of Palestinian terror attacks on Israelis and of weapons smuggling into Gaza"; a freeze on West Bank settlement construction and a halt to demolitions of Palestinian homes in east Jerusalem; the "immediate reconstruction of Gaza"; and the "pursuit of a comprehensive peace between Israel and its neighbors, including Syria, using the Arab Peace Initiative as a basis for negotiations."

"These ideas are not new," the ambassadors add, but "require your conveying them to the parties with a sense of urgency."

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