Obama asks Netanyahu to start negotiating

WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.S. President Barack Obama telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to urge him to resume negotiations with the Palestinians.

Obama called Netanyahu on Thursday as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was meeting with Palestinian negotiators in Jordan. It is Kerry’s sixth visit to the region in recent months to jumpstart peace talks. Kerry is scheduled to leave on Friday.

“The president encouraged Prime Minister Netanyahu to continue to work with Secretary Kerry to resume negotiations with the Palestinians as soon as possible,” the White House said in a statement. The statement also said the leaders talked about security issues in Egypt, Iran and Syria.

Israel Army radio quoted an unnamed senior Israeli source as saying that Obama “urged Netanyahu to start negotiating with the Palestinians as soon as possible.”

Reports say that the Palestinians are ready to resume talks if Israel agrees to negotiate on the basis of the 1967 lines.

Kerry met Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat in Jordan on Friday to discuss resuming peace talks with Israel, Reuters reported. The Palestinian leadership on Thursday did not accept Kerry’s latest proposal to restart the talks that have been stalled since 2010, but signaled they were leaving the door open for him to continue his peace push, according to Reuters.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Mary Harp said Thursday that “the situation is fluid and they are following it closely.” She added that the State Department will not respond to rumors circulating in the media.

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