News / Middle East

Obama to Israelis: 'You Are Not Alone'

Obama: Israel's Future Depends on Peace with Palestiniansi
X
March 22, 2013 1:33 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama told an audience of Israeli university students that the future of their country depends on forging a lasting peace with the Palestinians. The speech came as Mr. Obama wrapped up the second day of his visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories. VOA senior White House correspondent Dan Robinson reports.
Obama: Israel's Future Depends on Peace with Palestinians
U.S. President Barack Obama told an audience of young Israelis Thursday that they are "not alone" in facing threats to Israel's security, while urging them to pursue peace with the Palestinians as the "only path to true security."
 
In a speech to university students in Jerusalem, Obama spoke at length about the Jewish people's historic yearnings for freedom in their own land and the values shared by Americans and Israelis.
 
Obama also said that as a friend who is "deeply committed" to Israel's future, he believes Israelis can only keep their nation Jewish and democratic if they agree to an "independent and viable" state of Palestine.
 
President Obama said Israeli leaders must recognize that "continued settlement activity" on land the Palestinians claim for a state is "counterproductive."  Obama also said he believes Israel has a genuine peace partner in Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
 
Obama met Abbas in Ramallah earlier in the day where he called on Israelis and Palestinians to begin peace talks on core issues of their conflict without waiting for those disputes to be resolved in advance.

Watch related report by Jeff Custer:

Obama Calls for Talks on Core Israeli-Palestinian Issuesi
X
March 21, 2013 4:54 PM
On the second day of his visit to the Middle East, U.S. President Barack Obama visited Ramallah in the West Bank for talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and tours of the area. Obama took the opportunity to call on Israelis and Palestinians to begin peace talks on core issues of their conflict. Jeff Custer reports.

"I understand that the status quo isn't really a status quo because the situation on the ground continues to evolve and makes it harder to reach a two state solution, and I know that the Palestinian people are deeply frustrated," he said.

"So one of my main messages today, the same message I am conveying in Israel, is that we cannot give up, we cannot give up on the search for peace no matter how hard it is," said Obama.


President Obama's Mideast Trip

Israel
-Will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
-Plans to visit Israel's Holocaust memorial and the grave of Yitzhak Rabin
-Will deliver speech to Israeli students
West Bank
-Will meet in Ramallah with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad
-Plans to visit Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity
Jordan
-Will meet with King Abdullah
-Plans to visit Petra
The president praised Abbas for institution building in the West Bank, which he said stands in stark contrast to Gaza, where he said Hamas continues to refuse to renounce violence and enforces "rigid dogmas."

Israeli Settlements

President Abbas called the issue of Israeli settlements, which he said the world recognizes as illegal, a continuing major hurdle blocking a two state solution.

"It is the duty of the Israeli government to at least halt the activity, so that we can speak of issues, and when we define our borders and their borders together, each side will know its territory in which it can do whatever it pleases," he said.

Abbas said younger Palestinians no longer trust the two state solution. If peace with Israel can be achieved, he said, Israel knows that Arab and Islamic states would immediately recognize the state of Israel.

Obama condemned the firing of rockets Thursday into southern Israel from Gaza, saying such attacks bolster Israeli concerns about any peace deal. Abbas was quoted as issuing a statement condemning attacks on civilians.

Click to EnlargeClick to Enlarge
x
Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge
He also said he made clear to Israeli leaders that continued settlement activity does not advance the cause of peace. 

But he  emphasized to both sides the importance of pushing through disagreements to get to direct talks.

"What I shared with President Abbas and I will share with the Palestinian people is that if the expectation is that we can only have direct negotiations when everything is settled ahead of time, then there is no point for negotiations," he said. "So, I think it is important for us to work through this process even if there are irritants on both sides."

Obama also said he wants to ensure that all parties get to "core issues" and try to rebuild confidence and trust.

Part of the goal of his trip, he said, is to assess how Israeli leaders and President Abbas would structure a potential path back to direct negotiations.  He said incremental steps that serve to delay discussion of fundamental issues, rather than help to shape a broad-based agreement, will only extend the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

  • U.S. President Barack Obama walks with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, right, upon his arrival at Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, Jordan, March 22, 2013.
  • Obama tours the Hall of Names during his visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, March 22, 2013. With him are Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate Avner Shalev and Israeli President Shimon Peres.
  • President Obama with Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, left, after visiting the Hall of Remembrance at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, Israel, March 22, 2013.
  • Obama shares a laugh with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during an official state dinner hosted by Israel's President Shimon Peres (not pictured) in Jerusalem, March 21, 2013.
  • Members of the audience listen as President Obama delivers a speech on Mideast policy at the Jerusalem Convention Center, March 21, 2013.
  • Obama interacts with children as he tours the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, March 22, 2013.
  • Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas walks with  Obama at the Muqata Presidential Compound in the West Bank town of Ramallah, March 21, 2013.
  • President Obama lays a wreath at the grave of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin at Mt Herzl in Jerusalem March 22, 2013.
  • Rows of police officers on standby during Obama's visit in the West Bank city of Ramallah, March 21, 2013.
  • President Obama shakes hands with Israeli children as he is welcomed in Jerusalem, March 20, 2013.
  • U.S. President Obama, Israeli President Shimon Peres and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speak with greeters at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, March 20, 2013.
  • Israeli soldiers walk towards their positions as they prepare for an official ceremony to welcome President Obama at Ben Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv, Israel, March 20, 2013.
  • Posters calling for Obama to free Jonathan Pollard from a U.S. prison on display in Jerusalem, March 20, 2013.

VOA's Michael Lipin contributed to this report from Washington.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost-Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Melisa from: USA
March 21, 2013 12:16 PM
what "peace"? Arabs want nothing better that the destruction of Israel... just like the Iranians want the destruction of US

by: Kafantaris from: USA, Ohio
March 21, 2013 11:41 AM
The Palestinians should have a state of their own.
Let's get it done and move forward.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

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