President Obama and Israeli PM Netanyahu Optimistic About Peace Process

And, at the same time, he would "make an argument to Israel as an ally that the approach we are taking is one that has to be given a chance and offers the prospect of security, not just for the United States but also for Israel; that is superior to some of the other alternatives."

To prevent Israel taking matters into its own hands, according to Israeli officials and media, the United States has warned Israel not to attack Iran.

Israeli President Shimon Peres, for one, sounded optimistic Sunday.

"I think it is a very encouraging and timely proposition," Peres said at the World Economic Forum on the banks of the Dead Sea. "Time has come to depose war, hatred and terror and come to real business -- how to assure the life, the safety and the future of our children. We were negotiating with them [the Palestinians] for quite a while. I think the gap was narrowed and I do believe it is a bridgeable gap. With ... a little bit of fresh ideas, it can be bridged."

Peres met with Obama and Vice President Joe Biden earlier this month to discuss security and the two-state solution.

Biden said May 5 at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's annual policy conference in Washington, "With all the change you will hear about, there is one enduring, essential principle that will not change; and that is our commitment to the peace and security of the state of Israel. That is not negotiable. That is not a matter of change. That is something to be reinforced and made clear."

The wider region will be carefully scrutinizing the outcome of today's meeting. Moderate Arab allies like Jordan and Egypt are piling on the pressure for real progress.

For a U.S. president trying to re-brand America's image in the Middle East, confronting Israel's settlements will be a crucial test of resolve. His Arab audience wants to see action to match the recent change in Washington's rhetoric.

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