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Obama cites ‘urgency’ in advancing talks

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, rear left, and President Obama, flanked by Israeli and U.S. officials, speak prior to their Mideast summit on Sept. 22, 2009 in New York City. (Avi Ohayon / GPO / Flash 90 / JTA)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, rear left, and President Obama, flanked by Israeli and U.S. officials, speak prior to their Mideast summit on Sept. 22, 2009 in New York City. (Avi Ohayon / GPO / Flash 90 / JTA)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, shakes hands with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in front of President Obama during a trilateral meeting at Obama's hotel in New York on Sept. 22, 2009. (Avi Ohayon / GPO / Flash 90 / JTA)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, shakes hands with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in front of President Obama during a trilateral meeting at Obama’s hotel in New York on Sept. 22, 2009. (Avi Ohayon / GPO / Flash 90 / JTA)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Israel and the Palestinians must act "with a sense of urgency," President Obama said after meeting with their leaders.

The U.S. president met Tuesday in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Obama met separately with the leaders, then joined them in a trilateral meeting.

"We have to summon the will to break the deadlock that has trapped generations of Israelis and Palestinians in an endless cycle of conflict and suffering," Obama said at a joint photo opportunity with Netanyahu and Abbas before their three-way meeting. "We cannot continue the same pattern of taking tentative steps forward and then stepping back. Success depends on all sides acting with a sense of urgency."

U.S. officials failed last week in their efforts to elicit concessions from either side in an attempt to renew peace talks. The Palestinians insist on a total settlement freeze and Israel wants to keep the talks confined to borders.

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