After months of placing the onus on Israel to lay the groundwork for new negotiations, Mr Obama's decision to change tack represents a desperate bid to salvage the long-stalled peace process from total collapse.
According to the 16-point missive, Mr Abbas's compliance would lead to renewed American support for Palestinian statehood, while resistance would result in painful consequences.
"Obama will regard any rejection of his proposal to move to direct talks as absolutely unacceptable," the letter read. "Such rejection will have consequences, in the form of a loss of trust in President Abbas and the Palestinian side. There will also be other effects on US-Palestinian relations."
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