Obama: Israel Settlements in West Bank Not Appropriate

Earlier, Gaza militants fired rockets into Israel during Obama visit

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 21, 2013 2:03 AM CDT | Updated Mar 21, 2013 8:00 AM CDT

(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.

President Obama and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas shake hands at the Muqata Presidential Compound in Ramallah, Thursday, March 21, 2013.
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)
Palestinians rip an American flag during a protest against the visit of the US President Obama in Gaza City, Wednesday, March 20, 2013.
Palestinians rip an American flag during a protest against the visit of the US President Obama in Gaza City, Wednesday, March 20, 2013.   (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
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