News / Middle East

Obama to Israelis: 'You Are Not Alone'

Obama: Israel's Future Depends on Peace with Palestiniansi
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
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

-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
-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
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

Guatemala Mudslide Death Toll Rises to 86

Death toll is expected to continue to rise as emergency crews dig through tons of earth for an estimated 350 people still missing More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

Debris Found in Search for Missing Ship

Objects located Sunday have not yet been confirmed to be from the 240 meter container ship, El Faro, which disappeared in the eye of Hurricane Joaquin, according to US Coast Guard More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs