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
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid