Obama: Israel Settlements in West Bank Not Appropriate
Earlier, Gaza militants fired rockets into Israel during Obama visit
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Mar 21, 2013 2:03 AM CDT
Updated Mar 21, 2013 8:00 AM CDT
President Obama and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas shake hands at the Muqata Presidential Compound in Ramallah, Thursday, March 21, 2013.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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(Newser) – President Obama headed over to the West Bank today for a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in which he blasted Israel's settlement activity as neither constructive or appropriate. At a news conference with Abbas, Obama said he's told Israel's leaders as much, the AP reports, and added that the settlements aren't helping the peace process. But, since stopping the settlements would be difficult politically for Israeli leaders, he suggested that Palestinians not make it a condition to restarting talks.

Obama also said Palestinians deserve an independent state, though a two-state solution will be difficult. The West Bank didn't exactly roll out the red carpet: Some 150 protesters greeted Obama's helicopter, Reuters notes, and Gaza militants had hours earlier launched a pair of rockets into the southern Israel town of Sderot. No one was injured in the attacks. One rocket caused damage to a house's yard, while the other landed in a field, police say. No group has yet claimed responsibility, the AP notes.