U.S. President Barack Obama has met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, as the Israeli government rebuffs U.S. and Palestinian calls to stop its settlement activity.
During their talks at the White House Thursday, Mr. Abbas urged Mr. Obama to press Israel on that issue, as well as the creation of a separate Palestinian state alongside Israel.
President Obama said Israel must halt the expansion of its West Bank settlements as part of a broader deal toward Middle East peace. The president said Palestinians, too, must do their share by providing security in the West Bank and reducing anti-Israeli sentiment in schools and mosques.
Earlier, Israel's government dismissed U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's call to freeze all settlement construction in the West Bank, without exception.
Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev says Israel will abide by its commitments to dismantle unauthorized outposts and not build new settlements. But he says construction must be allowed to continue in existing settlements to accommodate population growth.
President Abbas has said he will not resume peace talks with Israel until it stops settlement activity and accepts a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.