U.S. President Barack Obama told Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas that he was committed to seeing the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state within two years, an Egyptian official told the Arabic-language daily Al-Hayat on Thursday.
Obama promised Abbas that the United States would make great effort to help see that Palestinian goal achieved, the official told the London-based newspaper.
The official also told Al-Hayat that Israel had rejected special U.S. envoy George Mitchell's proposal to withdraw Israel Defense Forces troops from Palestinian-occupied sections of the West Bank, as it did on the eve of the Second Intifada in 2000.
According to the report, Israel told Mitchell that it could not guarantee such a move before beginning direct peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.
In place of withdrawing troops, the official told Al-Hayat, Israel offered other goodwill gestures, such as removing checkpoints and releasing certain Palestinian prisoners.
Last week, Abbas urged the Obama administration to impose a solution to the Middle East conflict that would give his people an independent state, and rejected the idea of creating a state within temporary borders.
"Mr. President [Barack Obama] and members of the American administration, since you believe in this [an independent Palestinian state], it is your duty to take steps toward a solution and to impose this solution," Abbas said in a speech to his Fatah party.
Abbas' appeal to Obama came amid widespread media reports that the U.S. president was considering floating a proposal that would set the contours of a final peace deal.
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