President Obama told reporters he was "cautiously hopeful" as Mideast peace talks began in Washington yesterday. The president—flanked by the leaders of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, and Jordan—urged the leaders to seize the opportunity to make a breakthrough, and vowed to do everything in his power to secure a lasting peace, the New York Times reports. The president earlier held one-on-one meetings with the leaders.
"We are but five men,” Obama said. “But when we come together, we will not be alone. We will be joined by the generations of those who have gone before.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas his "partner in peace." Abbas pledged to push hard for a peace deal, while stressing that he wants Israel to freeze settlement activity in the West Bank. The two leaders will have direct talks today, the first such Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in two years.