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

Obama prods Israel, Palestinians to restart talks

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Steph

    Thank you President Obama (and your entire team) for getting talks started again. Mid East peace has been ignored for far too long!

    September 22, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  2. Mike in LR

    Land giveaways or anything else will not satisfy the arabs. They want the destruction of Israel and noting less will do. The U.S. does not need to be a party to that. I'm sure that's BO's preference too.

    However, BO is weak as a leader. The world is laughing at him behind his back. He has no guts and they know it. The Russians schooled him last week. Soon there'll be another terrorist attack in the U.S. and he'll wring his hands and read his teleprompter on national TV again.

    And now it seems he wants to abandon Afghanistan to the taliban and instead bomb the heck out of Pakistan, a country with nukes. BO is a child in experience and he continues to act like it.

    September 22, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  3. Peoples Voice

    Nothing is going to happen until Israel stops the genocide of the Palestinians.

    September 22, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  4. Robin in Tampa, FL

    To the people who just want to see this president fail .... Obama started off basically on the second day of his presidency trying to bring the Israelis and the Palestinians to back to the negotiating table. He is putting in FAR greater effort than Bush who only tried to seek peace in the middle-east in his last 9 months of office. Obama will probably make some tangible headway as a result of his efforts.

    September 22, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  5. jon

    Who is this clown Obama to tell Israel what to do? He has already put Israel in grave danger by not shutting down Iran's nuclear program. This guy has no clue what he's doing. His words, although articulately expressed, are empty and meaningless.

    September 22, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  6. D. Tree

    At this point both Israel and Palestine have shown they are incapable of solving this problem on their own.

    Citizens of both countries have suffered enough, and the rest of the world also feels the effects of this problem.

    September 22, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  7. DonnaLee

    I'd bet that if the US would cut off all aid to Israel and The Palestinians it would quickly supply plenty of motivation for Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas to come to a peace deal.

    September 22, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  8. The most inept President ever

    For the many things that this President has been wrong on, this IS NOT ONE OF THEM.

    Getting these two groups together is a good thing.

    Now if we can just get the campaigner in chief off the campaign trail, maybe he can take of the "important issues" that he "talks" about over and over instead of smooching with has-been David Letterman.

    The time for "the important issues is now" oh snicker, snicker great leader.

    September 22, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  9. Jimmy the Greek

    Obama – caving to Russia, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela...... takes a hard-line with Israel & Honduras.

    Does ANYONE else think Obama is WAY out of his league??

    September 22, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  10. Steve (the real one)

    He has already done more good in 8 months than Bush/Cheney did in 8 years? Stop that stupid rhetoric

    September 22, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  11. Stephee

    This is truly amazing of President Obama. I'm glad to see a President standing by his word in bringing good change into our country and the entire world.
    So amazing it makes the Tea-party protesters look silly (which of course is sad that most of the world had to see that.)

    September 22, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  12. Never Repub again

    Isreal is like Republicans. They only want MONEY, and they dont love USA.

    September 22, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  13. A.K.

    What Israel is doing is GENOCIDE. They need to be arrested for war crimes. Killing off all the people of Palestine, because of the so called bombings that Palestine was responsible for, is not an excuse to destroy a country and take their land.
    However, nothing will ever happen. The people of Palestine will go unheard, because there are too many special interests involved. Th Us loves all that money that is being thrown at by wealthy jewish people.

    September 22, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  14. Peggy - TX

    The World is NOT laughing at the US or President Obama. The world is looking to him for leadership and world leaders are a bit afriad of his wide spread popularity with thier own people – a popularity that gives him leverage with these world leaders, which President Obama is just beginning to assert for the good of the US.

    September 22, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  15. Randolph Carter, the elitist, narcissistic Obamabot

    "Does ANYONE else think Obama is WAY out of his league??"

    Not really dude. He's doing a great job and has "caved" to nobody" Gimme a break. No matter what he does, neocons think he's doing a bad job. Y'all really need to grow up. Israel and the Palestinians should just get it over with and massacre eachother so we don't have to listen to their little "gotcha last" routine any more. I have zero sympathy for either side in this conflict. Both are scum. Have a nice day!

    September 22, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  16. malclave

    Considering the way the Obama Administration sold out Poland on the anniversary of the USSR's invasion of that nation... I expect Obama to gradually ramp up his anti-Israel rhetoric over the next several months, and officially throw Israel under the bus on June 5th (the anniversary of the start of the Six Day War).

    September 22, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  17. Craig of LA

    Without justice there can be no peace. Isreal has 75% of the west bank and continues to take more land an build. They are not building only to negotiate the land away. So every new land grab and every new building drives a dagger in the heart of peace. For Isreal to survive, it must give up land. Demographics and nuclear proliferation loom on the horizon. The longer Isreal waits, and the more land it grabs, the more desparate and fanatical the Palestinian response will be. Human beings are most dangerous and savage when they lose hope and suffer injustice. Netanyahu has charted a path that will ultimately destroy Isreal. How sad. I will mourn when that day comes.

    September 22, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  18. Peter

    Its only Israel and the palestinians who can solve their problem. President Obama has portrayed pure visionary leadership since taking office!. After four years America will be the greatest Nation in all spheres! the guy is brilliant!!!

    September 22, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
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