Obama: Both Palestinians and Israelis Have Legitimate Aspirations

(White House) Speaking in Tampa on Thursday, President Obama said: "The Middle East is obviously an issue that has plagued the region for centuries. And it's an issue that elicits a lot of passions....Here's my view. Israel is one of our strongest allies. It is a vibrant democracy. It shares links with us in all sorts of ways. It is critical for us and I will never waver from ensuring Israel's security and helping them secure themselves in what is a very hostile region. So I make no apologies for that. What is also true is that the plight of the Palestinians is something that we have to pay attention to, because it is not good for our security and it is not good for Israel's security if you've got millions of individuals who feel hopeless, who don't have an opportunity to get an education or get a job." "We are seeking a two-state solution in which Israel and the Palestinians can live side by side in peace and security. In order to do that, both sides are going to have to make compromises. As a first step, the Palestinians have to unequivocally renounce violence and recognize Israel. And Israel has to acknowledge legitimate grievances and interests of the Palestinians." "We know what a solution could look like in the region, but here's the problem that we're confronting right now, is that both in Israel and within the Palestinian territories, the politics are difficult; they're divided. The Israel government came in based on the support of a lot of folks who don't want to make a lot of concessions. I think Prime Minister Netanyahu is actually making some effort to try to move a little bit further than his coalition wants him to go. On the other hand, President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, who I think genuinely wants peace, has to deal with Hamas, an organization that has not recognized Israel and has not disavowed violence. And so we are working to try to strengthen the ability of both parties to sit down across the table and to begin serious negotiations....We've got to recognize that both the Palestinian people and Israelis have legitimate aspirations."

2010-01-29 08:21:31

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