U.S. President Barack Obama told reporters in London Wednesday that he is still confident the Palestinian Authority will get its own state.
He reiterated, as he did in his Middle East policy speech, that the resolution of the conflict rests on four points -- permanent borders, Israel's security, Jerusalem and the disposition of the Palestinian refugees and their generations of descendants. The last two points, he added, were "extraordinarily emotional" and would demand "wrenching concessions." He did not specify from whom the concessions would need to be made.
“My goal, as I set out in a speech I gave last week,is a Jewish State of Israel that is safe and secure and recognized by its neighbors, and a sovereign State of Palestine in which the Palestinian people are able to determine their own fate and their own future...I am confident that can be achieved,”
As for the United Nations, I’ve already said -- I said in the speech last week and I will repeat -- the United Nations can achieve a lot of important work. What the United Nations is not going to be able to do is deliver a Palestinian state. The only way that we’re going to see a Palestinian state is if Israelis and Palestinians agree on a just peace.
"I strongly believe that for the Palestinians to take the United Nations route rather than the path of sitting down and talking with the Israelis is a mistake; that it does not serve the interests of the Palestinian people, it will not achieve their stated goal of achieving a Palestinian state. And the United States will continue to make that argument both in the United Nations and in our various meetings around the world".
He also noted that it is unrealistic for Israel to be expected to sit down with a PA government that includes Hamas, which has refused to recognize Israel's right to exist, and has not renounced violence:
"The Israelis are properly concerned about the agreement that’s been made between Fatah and Hamas. Hamas has not renounced violence. Hamas is an organization that has thus far rejected the recognition of Israel as a legitimate state. It is very difficult for Israelis to sit across the table and negotiate with a party that is denying your right to exist, and has not renounced the right to send missiles and rockets into your territory".
"So, as much as it’s important for the United States, as Israel’s closest friend and partner, to remind them of the urgency of achieving peace, I don’t want the Palestinians to forget that they have obligations as well. And they are going to have to resolve in a credible way the meaning of this agreement between Fatah and Hamas if we’re going to have any prospect for peace moving forward".
"I believe that Hamas, in its own description of its agenda, has not renounced violence and has not recognized the state of Israel. And until they do, it is very difficult to expect Israelis to have a serious conversation, because ultimately they have to have confidence that a Palestinian state is one that is going to stick to its -- to whatever bargain is struck; that if they make territorial compromises, if they arrive at a peace deal, that, in fact, that will mean the safety and security of the Jewish people and of Israel. And Hamas has not shown any willingess to make the kinds of concessions that Fatah has, and it’s going to be very difficult for us to get a Palestinian partner on the other side of the table that is not observing the basic Quartet principles that we both believe -- that both David and I believe in -- the need to renounce violence, recognize the state of Israel, abide by previous agreements".