President Obama continued his show his support for Israel while abroad on his European tour. During a press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday, Obama responded to questions about his statements on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
In his response, Obama showed his full understanding of the contentious issues. While he recognizes the emotional attachment by both parties to certain points, he is committed to resolving the “hard-nosed” issues first:
‘[W]hat my speech did was to say, let’s begin the work with the very hard-nosed but transparent and less—perhaps less emotional issues of what would the territorial boundaries look like and what would Israeli security requirements entail.
And I believe that if the Palestinians and the Israelis begin talking about those two issues and get some resolution, they can start seeing on the horizon the possibility of a peace deal, they will then be in a position to have a—what would be a very difficult conversation about refugees and about Jerusalem.
That’s not something that any party from the outside is going to be able to impose on them. But what I am absolutely certain of is that if they’re not talking, we’re not going to make any progress, and neither the Israeli people or the Palestinian people will be well served.’
He stressed his support for the safety of Israel as a Jewish state alongside a sovereign Palestinian state:
‘My goal, as I set out in the speech I gave last week, is a Jewish state of Israel that is safe and secure and recognized by its neighbors, and a sovereign state of Palestine in which the Palestinian people are able to determine their own fate and their own future. I am confident that can be achieved. It is going to require wrenching compromise by both sides.’
Obama again warned Fatah against allying with Hamas until all parties recognize the state of Israel and renounce violence:
‘The Israelis are properly concerned about the agreement that’s been made between Fatah and Hamas. Hamas has not renounced violence. Hamas is an organization that has thus far rejected the recognition of Israel as a legitimate state. It is very difficult for Israelis to sit across the table and negotiate with a party that is denying your right to exist, and has not renounced the right to send missiles and rockets into your territory.
So, as much as it’s important for the United States, as Israel’s closest friend and partner, to remind them of the urgency of achieving peace, I don’t want the Palestinians to forget that they have obligations as well. And they are going to have to resolve in a credible way the meaning of this agreement between Fatah and Hamas if we’re going to have any prospect for peace moving forward.’
He repeated his stance on any unilateral action in the United Nations:
‘What the United Nations is not going to be able to do is deliver a Palestinian state. The only way that we’re going to see a Palestinian state is if Israelis and Palestinians agree on a just peace.
And so I strongly believe that for the Palestinians to take the United Nations route rather than the path of sitting down and talking with the Israelis is a mistake; that it does not serve the interests of the Palestinian people, it will not achieve their stated goal of achieving a Palestinian state. And the United States will continue to make that argument both in the United Nations and in our various meetings around the world.’
Cameron laid out British support for “Israel’s right to exist, right to defend herself, right to secure borders. That is absolutely vital that the Israelis know that their security is absolutely key to us. They need to know that.”
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