A senior US official said that US President Barack Obama promised Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he would put pressure on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas "to make tough decisions" in the negotiations with Israel, adding that the meeting between the two leaders was not as contentious as previous encounters.
Israel's Haaretz newspaper quoted the official as saying that Obama agreed to press Abbas during their meeting at the White House on 17 March to take "tough decisions."
The official pointed out that Obama told Netanyahu that he intends to demand for Abbas to accept the framework agreement prepared by US Secretary of State John Kerry and to extend the peace talks until the end of 2014.
The source added that, unlike previous encounters, Monday's meeting between Obama and Netanyahu went well and was free of tension or disagreement. "It was not a confrontational meeting, it was not a difficult meeting," the official stressed.
Last week, in a blunt interview, Obama told Bloomberg News that he was planning to pressure Netanyahu to make difficult decisions, asking: "If not now, when? And if not you, Mr Prime Minister, then who? How does this get resolved?"
Upon his arrival in Washington on Sunday, Netanyahu struck a defiant tone, saying that: "The Israeli people expect me to stand strong against criticism and pressure." However, after his meeting with Obama, he delivered an unusually optimistic speech on Tuesday to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful group in the Israel Lobby, suggesting that: "We all have so much to gain from peace."