Obama: The U.S. ‘Obviously Has Been a Strong Supporter of the Palestinian Authority’

President Barack Obama praised Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as a leader who has “consistently denounced violence.” But before going into a private meeting at the White House with Abbas, Obama stressed the importance of the rule of law and transparency of the authority.

President Barack Obama listens to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Monday, March 17, 2014. President Barack Obama said a Mideast peace solution remains elusive but he’s hoping to see progress in coming days and weeks. (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

“The United States obviously has been a strong supporter of the Palestinian Authority,” Obama said. “We’re the largest humanitarian donor and continue to help to try to foster economic development and opportunity and prosperity for people, particularly young people like those that I met.”

Abbas and the Arab League have said they refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said was a condition for the Palestinian authority to show it was serious about peace. The Palestinian Authority is widely distrusted in part for a history that advocated past terrorist acts.

During the White House visit, Abbas said he appreciates the “economic and political support the U.S. is extending to the Palestinian state so it can stand on its own feet.” But he said it’s time to move quickly on a peace deal.

“We are working for a solution that is based on international legitimacy and also the borders, the 1967 borders so that the Palestinians can have their own independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital and so that we can find a fair and lasting solution to the refugee problem,” Abbas said. “We don’t have any time to waste. Time is not on our side, especially given the very difficult situation that the Middle East is experiencing and the entire region is facing. We hope that we would be able to seize this opportunity to achieve a lasting peace.

The United States supports a two-state solution.

“Everybody understands the outlines of what a peace deal would look like, involving a territorial compromise on both sides based on ’67 lines with mutually agreed upon swaps, that would ensure that Israel was secure but would also ensure that the Palestinians have a sovereign state in which they can achieve the aspirations that they’ve held for so long,” Obama said.