September 22nd, 2009
03:53 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama prods Israel, Palestinians to restart talks

U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday prodded Israel and the Palestinian Authority to get moving on talks aimed at a permanent resolution of their decades-old conflict.
U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday prodded Israel and the Palestinian Authority to get moving on talks aimed at a permanent resolution of their decades-old conflict.

NEW YORK (CNN) – U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday prodded Israel and the Palestinian Authority to get moving on talks aimed at a permanent resolution of their decades-old conflict.

"Simply put, it is past time to talk about starting negotiations. It is time to move forward," Obama told reporters before a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. "It is time to show the flexibility and common sense and sense of compromise that is necessary to achieve our goals."

Obama first met separately with Netanyahu and Abbas on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in what he called "frank and productive" talks. The session was the first among the three leaders since Obama took office in January.

George Mitchell, the U.S. envoy for the Middle East, attended Tuesday's talks and said "intensive yet brief" discussions aimed at restarting the
negotiations will follow the meeting. He said the talks were "at all times cordial," but "direct" and sometimes "blunt."

Obama told Abbas and Netanyahu that, "The only reason to hold public office is to get things done," and that everyone "must take risks for peace," Mitchell said.

Obama's is the latest in a long line of U.S. administrations to press for a settlement of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian population in territories it has occupied since the 1967 Mideast war. Recent hopes for renewed Israeli-Palestinian talks have dimmed despite Mitchell's diplomatic efforts .

But Obama told reporters that talks on a permanent resolution of the conflict, including the establishment of an independent Palestinian state,
"must begin and begin soon."

"My message to these two leaders is clear: Despite all the obstacles, despite all the history, despite all the mistrust, we have to find a way
forward," he said. "We have to summon the will to break the deadlock that has trapped generations of Israelis and Palestinians in an endless cycle of conflict and suffering. We cannot continue the same pattern of taking tentative steps forward, and then stepping back."

The United States and Israel have publicly disagreed on Israeli plans to build more housing on land the Palestinians regard as theirs. Obama
administration demands for a complete freeze have been ignored by the Netanyahu government.

Abbas has so far rejected resuming talks with Israel until the Jewish state halts all settlement building in the occupied West Bank and in
predominantly Palestinian East Jerusalem.

Obama said Palestinians have boosted their security efforts, "but they need to do more to stop incitement and to move forward with negotiations."

Israel has eased restrictions on Palestinian travel and talked about limiting settlements, "but they need to translate these discussions into real
action on this and other issues," he said.


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Talking to Israel is like talking to a dining room table.

    September 22, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  2. Nagudcm Sugna

    This will be the defining issue of the Obama presidency. He will only be considered a success if he can bring peace between Israelies and the Palestinians.

    September 22, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  3. Demarques Taylor

    I applaud President Obama in his efforts to create peace in the Middle East

    September 22, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  4. Idiot_Pelosi

    Can't wait for ISRAEL to tell Barry where he can go.......

    September 22, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  5. Steve (the real one)

    Is it really too hard to understand ALL of Israel belong to the Israelis (the Jews)? Research a little and you wiill find that Arafat and crew got kicked out of Jordan!! Is Jordan their homeland? Did anybody ever bother to ask? Israel gave up much land aleady for the promise of peace. Yet, they are still being threatened and being asked to give up more land! You have your option, I have mine. The American way, right?

    September 22, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  6. Angie in PA

    There is no better person for this Task President Obama has great skills in bringing people together, Being Fair.

    September 22, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  7. Zap

    Careful, I know all americans call for world peace. But once you try to obtain that goal, all americans will quickly and with extreme prejudice, accuse you of being a sympathizer of one nation or another. If the past holds true, the last man of peace was beaten and hung on a cross; leaves you to wonder anyone's fate. Remember, no good deed goes unpunished.

    September 22, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  8. James, Phoenix AZ

    Um, how about former President Carter as a special envoy? After all, he is the ONLY president to have ever forged a lasting (up to the present) peace treaty in the Middle East, or have we all forgotten about the Camp David Accords already?

    September 22, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  9. phoenix86

    Meanwhile, Iran, Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, North Korea and China are laughing at the fool the US voter has put in the White House. A gift that keeps on giving.

    September 22, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  10. John Sorrenson

    O'Bama, you need to tend to your own house before telling your neighbors how to clean theirs.

    September 22, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  11. John Sorrenson

    Netanyahu does something Obama does not do: He stands up for his own country first. That's what a president is supposed to do, but our doesn't.

    September 22, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  12. doob

    ......here we go again....and again.
    t

    September 22, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  13. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I have to say that saying that the Palestinians never miss an oppertunity to miss an oppertunity is true. They could have progress far if Arafat had accepted what he was offered. He didn't for the shear fact that he would have to lose some power, and he couldn't do that. They never worked any miracles in Gaza when they had the chance; I don't think they will work together with each other now. They live on corruption because it is in their society.

    The Israelis do need to stop the settlement construction for now. The Palestinian "government" needs to impose law and order. They need to stop terrorists from getting weapons in and sending suicide bombers out. The only reason we haven't heard about any is that the wall has stopped them.

    September 22, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  14. Rob

    They'll pose for a picture with Barry, enjoy some food, talk a little, but nothing will be done. Both Netanyahu and Abbas know that Obama has no backbone, and the power and influence of the U.S. is detiorating every minute Obama's in office. The next president will be a Republican for 2 terms, but he/she may have to spend their entire first term fixing Obama's mistakes.

    September 22, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  15. flora

    Israel need to stop build on land that dont belong to them! Israel need to stop playing game and give the Palestinian their state, or let U.N do the partition and give a state to Palestinian after all was U.N that partition the land and Israel was born in 1948!If Israel dont want to stop settlement let go forward with U.N

    September 22, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  16. Jimmy

    Wait till these countries tell Obummer to butt out and tend to his own mess at home first.

    September 22, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  17. Steve (the real one)

    Carter as a special envoy? Whose he calling racist now? he already called the Jewish state racist! Lasting peace? Rockets where flying into Israel last year and this year too, remember? Threatening to wipe Israel off the map is peace? Sorry, ain't buying what you're selling! Carter's name calling greatly reduced or even eliminated his credibility!

    September 22, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  18. geecee

    No one is laughing at Obama or the U.S. Stop that stupid rhetoric. Obama is doing his job, trying to bring world peace isn't a waste of time or a folly. Other Presidents have tried, he should too, so give him a chance. We are not capitulating, as you Obama bashers want to insist. You would love him to fail at bringing the world together because you hate him so much and don't want him to get credit for doing anything positive. He has already done more good in 8 months than Bush/Cheney did in 8 years. They destroyed this country. Now Obama is trying to rebuild respect for the U.S.A. around the world, and so far he is doing a pretty good job. He's smart, savvy and decent. We are very fortunate to have this man leading our Country.

    September 22, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  19. Cindy

    No different than Congress... the 2 sides can't see past their noses.

    Don't give up, President Obama. This mess is worth fixing. If it was easy, it would have been done already. You're still the world's best hope to get it done.

    September 22, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  20. victim of republican greed

    Actually, the world is laughing at the fools who lost the presidential election in 2008.

    September 22, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  21. victim of republican greed

    Bush did nothing, so I applaud Obama's efforts.

    September 22, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  22. geecee

    You want to talk about a joke in the White House? How about if we had McCain/Palin right now? How about Bush/Cheney the past 8 years who ruined this country's respect around the world and bankrupted us? Where were you critics then?? Imagine McCain right now, starting a War in Iran and another in North Korea, and let's throw in Russia for the heck of it while we're at it. And, wow, Palin sure would have scared the wits out of Russia. No doubt she would remind Putin she can watch him from her house so he better behave himself! You guys make me laugh. You try to attempt as best you can that Obama was a bad choice and is doing an awful job – to no avail. The guy is smart, capable and qualified. You are the jokes and the embarrassment for not appreciating a good President when you get one!!

    September 22, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  23. JP

    I don't agree with Obama on very much but I was initially impressed when he took the right path and demanded that Israel stop building illegal settlements on stolen land. I guessed AIPAC got to his balls so the peace process is dead. Illegal settlement expansion=no peace. You would think that people who survived the holocaust would not make prople live in Warsaw Getto type conditions.

    September 22, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  24. Chris

    I take it that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is Obama's fault too? The constant jabbering of his critics is quickly reducing itself to a constant buzz – one that hits the same note over and over, endlessly, no matter what the topic is.

    September 22, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  25. wisconsin

    "Meanwhile, Iran, Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, North Korea and China are laughing at the fool the US voter has put in the White House."

    Actually, it was the LAST "fool the US voter has put in the White House." that they not only laughed at, but had contempt for. President Obama has actually started to regain the respect from rest of the world that our country deserves. If you weren't so hell-bent on blaming Obama for everything & anything, no matter what the facts are, you'd be able to see that!

    September 22, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
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