U.S. support for Israel remains “unshakeable,” President Obama told the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, and Palestinian leaders should ditch their plan to petition the international body for statehood.
“Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations. If it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now,” Obama said. “Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians – not us – who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them: on borders and on security, on refugees and Jerusalem.”
Obama’s speech followed an onslaught of criticism from Republicans and Israeli advocates, who said the president was endangering Israel.
Unlike previous high-profile comments on the Middle East, Obama avoided any mention of borders of a future Palestinian state. He also pointedly noted that Israel is “surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it” and reflected on the plight of Israeli citizens in the decades-old conflict.
The president made the Israeli-Palestinian dispute the centerpiece of his annual address to the United Nations General Assembly, devoted to what the president called “the pursuit of peace in an imperfect world.” This past year has seen an “extraordinary transformation,” Obama said, citing government changes in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.
The president’s supporters in the American Jewish community heralded his remarks as demonstrating that he remains committed to safeguarding Israel, while some GOP lawmakers blasted Obama’s call for the Palestinians to drop their statehood petition as toothless.
“Once again, the president did not mention any consequences for U.S. funding for the Palestinians or for the U.N. if they proceeded down this anti-Israel, anti-peace course,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., the chairwoman of House Foreign Affairs Committee.
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SOURCE: USA Today