WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama said yesterday that it's "more vital than ever" for Israel and the Palestinians to restart peace talks, as he plunged again into Mideast diplomacy with hopes of reaching an elusive accord.
Addressing reporters after an Oval Office meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah II, Obama said the United States would continue to push for "an equitable and just solution to a problem that has been nagging the region for many, many years."
The latest White House push comes with Israeli and Palestinian peace talks stalemated and amid upheavals sweeping the Middle East and North Africa. Obama's special Middle East envoy, former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, resigned several days ago after a largely fruitless two-year bid for peace.
Obama is to deliver a speech on the Middle East and U.S. policy there Thursday, and the next day he'll welcome Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House.
Obama said he discussed the changes roiling the Middle East with Abdullah, whose country has a peace treaty with Israel and is a key U.S. partner in looking for peace.
"We both share the view that despite the many changes -- or perhaps because of the many changes -- that are taking place in the region, it's more vital than ever that both Israelis and Palestinians find a way to get back to the table and begin negotiating a process whereby they can create two states that are living side by side in peace and security," Obama said.
Abdullah praised Obama for his continued focus on "the core issue of an Israeli and Palestinian peace."
Yet Obama gave no indication of how the United States would bring about peace talks that have dried up since September, when they were briefly restarted under U.S. pressure.
There are many, and daunting, barriers to resuming peace talks.
Netanyahu made clear in comments to his parliament Monday that he doesn't believe a Palestinian state is possible if the militant group Hamas, which is set to join a Palestinian unity government, does not recognize Israel. The Palestinians plan to seek UN recognition of a state this fall in hopes it will give them more leverage in negotiations with Israel.