March 17 - President Barack Obama urged both Israel and the Palestinians to 'embrace this opportunity' as both sides work on a framework for a peace deal. Rough Cut (no reporter narration)
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) President Barack Obama on Monday (March 17) urged Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to make tough decisions and take risks for peace with Israel, saying he hoped to see progress in U.S.-brokered negotiations in coming weeks. Obama met Netanyahu two weeks ago in Washington and is trying to narrow gaps between the two sides on a framework for a peace deal that would extend negotiations beyond an April deadline. "As I said to Prime Minister Netanyahu when he was here just a couple of weeks ago, I believe now is the time for, not just the leaders of both sides, but also the peoples of both sides to embrace this opportunity, but, we are going to have a lot of details that we are going to have to discuss. It's very hard, it's very challenging, we are going to have to take some tough political decisions and risks if we are able to move it forward. My hope is that we can continue to see progress in the coming days and weeks." Abbas, speaking through a translator pressed for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to go ahead with the scheduled release of a final group of Palestinian prisoners by the end of March. "Mr. President, we have an agreement with Israel that was brokered by Mr. Kerry concerning the release of the fourth batch of prisoners and we are hopeful that the fourth batch will be released by the 29th of March because this will give a very solid impression about these efforts to achieve peace," Abbas said. Outlining the Palestinian position, Abbas said he was working for a solution that included a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital as well as a solution to the problem of Palestinian refugees who fled or were driven away during 1948 hostilities when Israel was founded.