Obama urges Palestinians, Israeli students to ‘think anew’

JERUSALEM — In separate talks before West Bank Palestinians and Israeli college students that carried echoes of Abraham Lincoln’s call to “think anew and act anew,” President Obama urged both groups Thursday to abandon old ways of thinking and search for new means to reach peace while it was still possible.

On the second day of his three-day visit to the region, Mr. Obama traveled to Ramallah in the West Banks to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. At a press conference that followed, Mr. Obama reiterated his support for the creation of an independent Palestinian state and criticized Israeli settlement expansion as “not constructive.”

But he challenged Palestinian insistence that Israel halt its settlement activity as a precondition to resumption of peace talks.

“If the only way to begin [negotiations] is to get everything right at the outset we’re never going to get to the broader issue — to provide sovereignty and dignity for the Palestinian people and security for Israel,” Mr. Obama said.

His remark angered Mr. Abbas, who said that settlement building was clearly illegal.

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