Barack Obama and Mahmoud Abbas.

Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, and President Obama, in the Oval Office earlier today. (Alex Wong / Getty Images)

By David Gura

At the White House this morning, President Obama met with Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority. He said that, in light of Israel's recent raid on six vessels that attempted to break the country's blockade of the Gaza Strip, the two leaders spent a lot of time talking about the subject.

"Our conversation was focused on how do we actually allow more goods, more services into Gaza," Obama told reporters. "How do we allow businesses to thrive? How can we get construction moving? How can we put people to work in Gaza?"

As the United Nations and other countries continue to call for an independent investigation into the Israeli Defense Forces raid, which took place in May, Obama tried to strike an optimistic tone.

"We should be able to take what has been a tragedy, and turn it into an opportunity to create a situation where lives in Gaza are actually directly improved," he said.

Obama spoke of "a new conceptual framework," which would be based on talks with the president's European counterparts -- as well as Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Authority. He said he hopes it will isolate extremists and make it so "people in Gaza can thrive and succeed."

I think the key is making sure that Israel's security means are met, but that the needs of the people in Gaza are also met." And it seems, to us, that there should be ways of focusing narrowly on arms shipments, rather than focusing in a blanket way on stopping everything and then, in a piecemeal way, allowing things into Gaza.

At the conclusion of his brief remarks, Obama reiterated his call for a two-state solution, with "a Palestinian state side-by-side with an Israel that is secure."

Abbas will have lunch with George Mitchell, the United States Special Envoy for the Middle East. Tomorrow, he'll speak at the Brookings Institution, in Washington.

categories: Foreign Policy

1:11 - June 9, 2010