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British Leader Hopeful Obama Can Energize Israel-Palestinian Peace


Speaking with his Palestinian counterpart at the start of a Palestinian investment conference in London, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he felt President-elect Barack Obama can bring a new energy to the Israel-Palestinian peace process.

In Barack Obama, Gordon Brown sees a new opportunity for the international community to join together and get the stalled Middle East peace process rolling again.

While mindful of the attention being paid to the global financial crisis, Mr. Brown said the Israel-Palestinian problem must also be addressed.

"I think it is important to recognize that the Arab peace initiative, the 22 Arab states calling on President-elect Obama to prioritize achieving a comprehensive plan, is a very important development indeed. It is the 22 Arab countries coming behind progress that can happen quickly in their view, asking the new presidency in America to take this on as an urgent priority and we are very much of the same view and we will do our best to promote that initiative," he said.

Standing next to Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayad, Mr. Brown said the settlement issue must be resolved if there is to be a lasting peace.

"I think everybody now sees the contours of what a two-state solution would look like. A Palestinian state that was secure and viable economically, an Israeli state that is secure within its own borders and where its worries about peace and stability were answered. One of the blockages of that is clearly the settlement issue. We have consistently said, and I have said this to successive Israeli prime ministers and presidents when I have met them, we have consistently seen that as a barrier to reaching the agreement that everybody thinks is possible," said Brown.

For the next two days, the Palestinian prime minister will be hosting a Trade and Investment Forum in London.

On Tuesday, Mr. Brown will welcome outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to 10 Downing Street for talks.

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