News / USA

Obama Addresses Questions About Mideast Peace Approach

President Barack Obama receives applause as he speaks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) convention in Washington Sunday, May 22, 2011
President Barack Obama receives applause as he speaks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) convention in Washington Sunday, May 22, 2011

Speaking on Sunday to the largest pro-Israel organization in the United States, President Barack Obama has addressed what he called questions raised about his remarks last week concerning the Israel-Palestinian peace process.  

The president spoke in Washington to the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee amid continuing reverberations in Israel, the United States and globally from his address last week on the Middle East.

Mr. Obama said his remarks last Thursday enunciating the U.S. position on a starting point for reviving Israel-Palestinian negotiations constituted the "basic framework for negotiations that has long been the basis for discussions among the parties".

The president addressed what he called "misinterpretations" of his address at the State Department. "Since my position has been misrepresented several times, let me reaffirm what “1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps” means.   By definition, it means that the parties themselves - Israelis and Palestinians - will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967.  That is what mutually agreed upon swaps means.  It is a well known formula to all who have worked on this issue for a generation.  It allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last 44 years," he said.

Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who met with Mr. Obama on Friday, angrily rejected the approach saying 1967 lines would make Israeli settlements "indefensible".

Mr. Netanyahu, who remains in Washington and will address the pro-Israel lobby group on Monday, has since sought to downplay what media reports describe as a worsened rift with Mr. Obama, saying Saturday that there will be differences among friends.

Saying he was not surprised that his public statement of these principles generated controversy, Mr. Obama said he discussed with Mr. Netanyahu "realities",  including demographic changes, in the Middle East.

"What I did on Thursday was to say publicly what has long been acknowledged privately.  I have done so because we cannot afford to wait another decade, or another two decades, or another three decades, to achieve peace.  The world is moving too fast.  The extraordinary challenges facing Israel will only grow.  Delay will undermine Israel’s security and the peace that the Israeli people deserve," he said.

The president again rejected Palestinian attempts to de-legitimize Israel.  Palestinian leaders intend to seek U.N. General Assembly recognition of a Palestinian state in September.

Mr. Obama said the unity agreement between Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah poses "enormous obstacles" to peace and went on to demand that Hamas recognize Israel's right to exist. "No country can be expected to negotiate with a terrorist organization sworn to its destruction.   And we will continue to demand that Hamas accept the basic responsibilities of peace, including recognizing Israel’s right to exist,  and rejecting violence, and adhering to all existing agreements," he said.

The president reiterated his view of the status quo in Israel-Palestinian peace efforts as "unsustainable". "The march to isolate Israel internationally, and the impulse of the Palestinians to abandon negotiations, will continue to gain momentum in the absence of a credible peace process and alternative.  And for us to have leverage with the Palestinians, to have leverage with the Arab States, and with the international community, the basis for negotiations has to hold out the prospect of success," he said.

Fatah spokesman Saeb Erekat was quoted as saying talks with Israel could resume that would lead to a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, but said without Prime Minister Netanyahu's agreement to "turn over a new leaf" there would be no point talking about a peace process.

President Obama also underscored the "ironclad" U.S. commitment to Israel's security and maintaining Israel's qualitative military edge, noting U.S. aid for Israel's new "Iron Dome" anti-missile system that defends against Palestinian rocket attacks.

He also repeated U.S. determination to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, noting U.S. and United Nations sanctions, and said Iran continues to "support terrorism across the region" including providing weapons and funds to terrorist organizations."   

Mr. Obama said the Middle East situation will be what he called "a topic of acute interest this week during his five day trip to Europe, which begins in Ireland and Britain, and moves to France for the G8 summit, followed by Poland.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Tunnel Bombs Highlight Savagery of Aleppo Fight

Rebels have used tunneling tactic near government buildings, command posts or supply routes to set off explosives; they detonated their largest bomb this week under Syria's intelligence headquarters More

Sierra Leone Launches New Initiative to Stop Ebola Spread

Government hopes Infection and Prevention Control Units, IPC, will help protect patients and healthcare workers More

UN Official: Fight Against Terrorism Must Not Violate Human Rights

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says efforts by states to combat terrorism are resulting in large scale rights violations against the very citizens they claim to defend More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More