Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Obama: Palestinians 'don't feel confident' about Netanyahu's commitment to territorial concessions

(Haaretz).President Barack Obama told Jewish leaders - delegates of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations that Israel must use its military, political and cultural strength to create a context for peace with the Palestinians, according to participants of a 50-member delegation that met the president at the White House on Tuesday.

Some of the delegates, who asked not to be named, also said that the president hinted that Israel must do some soul-searching regarding its commitment to peace.

Obama relayed that the Palestinians "don't feel confident that the Netanyahu government is serious about territorial concessions", Obama also indicated that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was set on establishing a state during his tenure and be amenable to an acceptable deal if offered, said the delegates.

Rabbi Steven Wernick, CEO and Executive Vice President of the United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism, lauded Obama for what he called a "balanced and fair" approach to the stalled peace process.
"I think the president was consistent in hinting that both sides have to demonstrate greater seriousness for it to occur. I asked the president specifically about the Palestinians creating a context of peace in their culture, especially after the Palestinian leaks showed there is a big difference between their public and private statements" .

"He said there is an opportunity in the region for a rigorous debate. He asked for soul-search for everyone. I think he was talking about the objective reality that both sides need to think if they indeed want peace – he spoke specifically about Netanyahu and Israeli leadership, but he spoke also about Palestinians," added Wernick.

“People who have negative views about this administration will have them reinforced. I am convinced that the President is 100% supportive of Israel and has a desire to reach peace between Israel and the Palestinians,He and his advisers stated explicitly and repeatedly that the U.S. remains committed to Israel's security.

"We thanked the President for making the veto at the Security Council and the President reassured us about the U.S. commitment to Israel’s sovereignty and security. But he did talk about the fact that Israel is the stronger party here, militarily, culturally and politically. And Israel needs to create context for it to happen."