Progress in Middle East peace process up to Israel and Palestine

The decisions that will lead to progress in the Middle East peace talks will rest on the shoulders of the nation of Israel and the Palestinian people, the White House said on Monday.

Josh Earnest, the White House's principal deputy press secretary, made the statement on Monday during a daily press briefing in Washington. Earnest responded to questions related to the Middle East peace talks that began in Washington on Monday night. He said President Obama was integral in the peace talks resuming after years of stagnation.

"The Middle East peace process is something that -- or at least these conversations that are ongoing, or that are slated for this evening, was part of a process that was kicked off by the President's trip to the Middle East earlier this year," Earnest said. "Many of you traveled there for that visit. And the President had the opportunity to visit with (Israeli) Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu, (Palestinian) President (Mahmoud) Abbas, and King Hussein of Jordan, where they had some conversations about how it's in the best interest of both the Israeli and Palestinian people to engage in final status negotiations."

Earnest said that while the U.S. has a role in encouraging Israel and Palestine to come to the table, the U.S. can only go so far in brokering peace. When asked how optimistic President Obama was that the peace talks in Washington would lead to positive and concrete negotiations in the Middle East, Earnest said progress would ultimately be up to the Israelis and Palestinians.

"Secretary (of State John) Kerry, at the direction of the President, has been hard at work in trying to facilitate these conversations," Earnest said. "So we're pleased to see that that process has moved a little bit at least. But we do so with the full knowledge that there's a lot of difficult work ahead, that there are very difficult decisions that both sides are going to have to confront. And ultimately, these are not decisions that will be made by the President or anybody in the United States of America. These are decisions that are going to have to be made by the leaders of the Palestinian people and by the leaders of the nation of Israel."