President Obama wrapped up his interview with the Catholic press with a question on the Middle East and how his administration plans to address the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

“We have been very clear that we think settlements should stop ...,” said the president. “On the other hand, it’s not just the problem of Israeli settlements. The Palestinians have a set of obligations, some of which the Palestinian Authority have met, some of which they have not been as strong on. We want to encourage them to clamp down on violence, to end the incitement that you still hear, unfortunately, in many Palestinian communities.”

He also cited the role of neighboring Arab states in normalizing relations with Israel and their responsibility for recognizing Israel’s existence, legitimacy, and security concerns.

“What the United States should be doing is holding a mirror to both sides and indicating how their failure to resolve this issue is undermining peace and security for both peoples,” concluded the president. “This is a topic that I’m looking forward to speaking with the Holy Father about, because I think that our position is going to overlap greatly with the position of the government of the Holy See.”

It should be noted that just prior to the meeting, those invited had the opportunity to speak with one another to agree on questions so that none of the invitees would be asking the same question. Each attendee was allowed one question, without the opportunity for a follow-up. Other individuals/print publications were invited to the meeting, but were unable to attend.