News / Middle East

Obama Criticizes Israel's Decision to Build in Occupied East Jerusalem

Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordanian control in the 1967 Arab Israeli war, and later annexed it in a move not recognized by the international community

President Barack Obama delivers the keynote speech during his visit to the University of Indonesia, in Jakarta, Indonesia, 10 Nov 2010
President Barack Obama delivers the keynote speech during his visit to the University of Indonesia, in Jakarta, Indonesia, 10 Nov 2010

U.S. President Barack Obama is promising America "will spare no effort" in its attempt to bring peace to the Middle East.

Mr. Obama spoke about the difficult negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians Wednesday during a speech at the University of Indonesia in Jakarta.

He said enormous obstacles remain, but that the United States is committed to a peaceful future that sees Israel and a Palestinian state living side by side.

Mr. Obama had expressed frustration over the peace process upon his arrival in Indonesia.

During a news conference with Indonesia's president, Mr. Obama chastised Israel and the Palestinians for not making what he called the "extra effort" needed to build trust.

He also criticized Israel's decision to build 1,300 new apartments in occupied East Jerusalem, saying such activity is never helpful during peace talks.

Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordanian control in the 1967 Arab Israeli war, and later annexed it in a move not recognized by the international community.

In a statement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office insisted that "Jerusalem is not a settlement.  It is the capital of the state of Israel."  

Palestinians view East Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent state. The Palestinian news agency WAFA says Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has directed an aide to request an "urgent" U.N. Security Council meeting to discuss Israel's new settlement activity.

U.S. Senator John Kerry, who is touring the region, met with top Israeli and Palestinian officials Wednesday. Kerry said the window of opportunity "for a comprehensive peace is closing" or "narrowing."

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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