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The Obama Administration has signaled a tougher approach towards Israel ahead of fresh talks on the Middle East peace process by insisting it must endorse the creation of an independent Palestinian state.

“Israel has to work toward a two-state solution,” declared Vice-President Joe Biden today in a speech to the annual conference of a powerful pro-Israel lobby group in Washington.

“You’re not going to like my saying this,” he warned the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac) before adding that the Jewish state should not build any more settlements on Palestinian territory, and should “dismantle existing outposts and allow Palestinians freedom of movement”.

President Obama later held a White House meeting with Shimon Peres, his Israeli counterpart, who holds a largely ceremonial position. But the US Administration’s message appeared to be addressed to the new right-wing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who is due to visit the White House on May 18.

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