Obama On Israel, Iran At UN
09/24/2013 - 15:49
Douglas Bloomfield

President Barack Obama focused primarily on Syria, the nuclear dispute with Iran and Israeli-Palestinian peace in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly.  You can read the full text here.

"(T)he United States will never compromise our commitment to Israel’s security, nor our support for its existence as a Jewish state," he said.  "Likewise, the United States remains committed to the belief that the Palestinian people have a right to live with security and dignity in their own sovereign state."

He later had meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other world leaders, but not with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. The White House had proposed an "encounter" in a U.N. hallway but that was reportedly quashed by higher ups in Tehran. According to a senior administration official, "it was clear that it was too complicated for them."

Here are some highlights of what Obama had to say on Iran and Israeli-Palestinian peace:

IRAN

• ...if we can resolve the issue of Iran’s nuclear program, that can serve as a major step down a long road towards a different relationship – one based on mutual interests and mutual respect.

•  Since I took office, I have made it clear – in letters to the Supreme Leader in Iran and more recently to President Rouhani – that America prefers to resolve our concerns over Iran’s nuclear program peacefully, but that we are determined to prevent them from developing a nuclear weapon.

• ... conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable.

•  Given President Rouhani’s stated commitment to reach an agreement, I am directing John Kerry to pursue this effort with the Iranian government, in close coordination with the European Union, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China.

ISRAEL-PALESTINIAN PEACE

•  [T]he United States will never compromise our commitment to Israel’s security, nor our support for its existence as a Jewish state.

• I believe there is a growing recognition within Israel that the occupation of the West Bank is tearing at the democratic fabric of the Jewish state.

•  [T]he children of Israel have the right to live in a world where the nations assembled in this body fully recognize their country, and unequivocally reject those who fire rockets at their homes or incite others to hate them.

• …the United States remains committed to the belief that the Palestinian people have a right to live with security and dignity in their own sovereign state

•  (Young Palestinians) are understandably cynical that real progress will ever be made, and frustrated by their families enduring the daily indignity of occupation. But they recognize that two states is the only real path to peace: because just as the Palestinian people must not be displaced, the state of Israel is here to stay.

• Prime Minister Netanyahu has released Palestinian prisoners, and reaffirmed his commitment to a Palestinian state.

• Friends of Israel, including the United States, must recognize that Israel’s security as a Jewish and democratic state depends upon the realization of a Palestinian state.

•  Arab states – and those who have supported the Palestinians – must recognize that stability will only be served through a two-state solution with a secure Israel. All of us must recognize that peace will be a powerful tool to defeat extremists, and embolden those who are prepared to build a better future.

• [T]ies of trade and commerce between Israelis and Arabs could be an engine of growth and opportunity at a time when too many young people in the region are languishing without work. So let us emerge from the familiar corners of blame and prejudice, and support Israeli and Palestinian leaders who are prepared to walk the difficult road to peace.

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