Obama to UN: yada yada yada — Israelis applaud

In case anyone is in any doubt that President Obama’s comments on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, delivered to the UN General Assembly this morning, were nothing more than a string of worthless peace-process platitudes, then listen to the rave review he got from Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman: “I congratulate President Obama, and I am ready to sign on this speech with both hands.” Prime Minister Netanyahu and opposition leader Tzipi Livni were similarly pleased.

As usual Israel and the United States are speaking with one voice: Israel’s.

One year ago, I stood at this podium and called for an independent Palestine. I believed then – and I believe now – that the Palestinian people deserve a state of their own. But what I also said is that genuine peace can only be realized between Israelis and Palestinians themselves. One year later, despite extensive efforts by America and others, the parties have not bridged their differences. Faced with this stalemate, I put forward a new basis for negotiations in May. That basis is clear, and well known to all of us here. Israelis must know that any agreement provides assurances for their security. Palestinians deserve to know the territorial basis of their state.

I know that many are frustrated by the lack of progress. So am I. But the question isn’t the goal we seek – the question is how to reach it. And I am convinced that there is no short cut to the end of a conflict that has endured for decades. Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the UN – if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now. Ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians who must live side by side. Ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians – not us – who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them: on borders and security; on refugees and Jerusalem.

Peace depends upon compromise among peoples who must live together long after our speeches are over, and our votes have been counted. That is the lesson of Northern Ireland, where ancient antagonists bridged their differences. That is the lesson of Sudan, where a negotiated settlement led to an independent state. And that is the path to a Palestinian state.

We seek a future where Palestinians live in a sovereign state of their own, with no limit to what they can achieve. There is no question that the Palestinians have seen that vision delayed for too long. And it is precisely because we believe so strongly in the aspirations of the Palestinian people that America has invested so much time and effort in the building of a Palestinian state, and the negotiations that can achieve one.

America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable, and our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring. And so we believe that any lasting peace must acknowledge the very real security concerns that Israel faces every single day. Let’s be honest: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. Israel’s citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses. Israel’s children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them. Israel, a small country of less than eight million people, looks out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map. The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries of exile, persecution, and the fresh memory of knowing that six million people were killed simply because of who they were.

These facts cannot be denied. The Jewish people have forged a successful state in their historic homeland. Israel deserves recognition. It deserves normal relations with its neighbors. And friends of the Palestinians do them no favors by ignoring this truth, just as friends of Israel must recognize the need to pursue a two state solution with a secure Israel next to an independent Palestine.

That truth – that each side has legitimate aspirations – is what makes peace so hard. And the deadlock will only be broken when each side learns to stand in each other’s shoes. That’s what we should be encouraging. This body – founded, as it was, out of the ashes of war and genocide; dedicated, as it is, to the dignity of every person – must recognize the reality that is lived by both the Palestinians and the Israelis. The measure of our actions must always be whether they advance the right of Israeli and Palestinian children to live in peace and security, with dignity and opportunity. We will only succeed in that effort if we can encourage the parties to sit down together, to listen to each other, and to understand each other’s hopes and fears. That is the project to which America is committed. And that is what the United Nations should be focused on in the weeks and months to come.

The New York Times reports:

Less than an hour after Mr. Obama spoke, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France stood at the same podium in a sharp repudiation, calling for a General Assembly resolution that would upgrade the Palestinians to “observer status,” as a bridge towards statehood. “Let us cease our endless debates on the parameters,” Mr. Sarkozy said. “Let us begin negotiations and adopt a precise timetable.”

For Mr. Obama, the challenge in crafting the much-anticipated General Assembly address on Wednesday was how to address the incongruities of the administration’s position: the president who committed himself to making peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians a priority from Day One, who still has not been able to even get peace negotiations going after two and a half years; the president who opened the door to Palestinian state membership at the United Nations last year ending up threatening to veto that very membership; the president who was determined to get on the right side of Arab history ending up, in the views of many on the Arab street, on the wrong side of it on the Palestinian issue.

The US-Israeli message to Palestinians remains now what it has long been: the Palestinians deserve a state, but not just yet.

So if you’re looking for Palestine, all you need to do is find your way to the end of the peace process rainbow — it’s right there, alongside a pot of gold.

But if the White House is still willing to collude with its Israeli partners in refusing to set a deadline for the creation of a Palestinian state, France’s president issued Obama a stern warning:

“Each of us knows that Palestine cannot immediately obtain full and complete recognition of the status of United Nations member state,” he said. “But who could doubt that a veto at the Security Council risks engendering a cycle of violence in the Middle East?”

Those who still declare their belief that a two-state solution is the only viable solution to the conflict must move beyond their endless repetition of the parameters of such a solution and declare without equivocation when a Palestinian state must be created.

Without a date there will be no state.

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Comments

  1. The very abbreviated news reports about the speech this morning told the story well enough—the Security Council would happily accept the Palestinian request for recognition of sovereignty and then table it. No doubt in Obama’s and Netanyahu’s minds, until sometime a few centuries hence when some historian would find the request and wonder what ever happened to deal with it.

    Sarkozy is probably grandstanding again, but at least he’s standing on the right grandstand. One has to wonder about Obama, is the world right to be embarrassed for him or about him?

  2. Well, it was to be expected, wasn’t it? Now, all things being what they are, he still has a chance to redeem himself in not only the eyes of the World, but also here at home, by either abstaining the vote in the security council or voting in favor. The madness that has been taking place in the M.E. from Israel needs to cease. So, who does “O” represent? Is it the U.S.A. or Israel? I wonder, any takers on betting the farm that the Israelis wouldn’t let him live there in Israel after he’s defeated in 2012? Anybody?

  3. One gives as one gets– INEVITABLY. No matter how much Obama got away with, faking a contemplative and humane position, in the end he is a Nobel Prize thief. The presidency was the prize Obama got it for what an embarrassing fool he sounded like today at the UN instead of what the Nobel Committee was so sure he would become; he had today, once again, establish that he’s a man of no principles, no ideas and no leadership spark…just an anointed stooge by Ted Kennedy who died and left Obama flapping in the breeze with no personal sense of direction. Ted never got to be president so he had hoped to have a dummy stand in who would follow his orders. When Ted died Obama filled his entourage with Clintonistas who ably kept him swinging on a gallows of indecision which Suskind so ably documented. Once again, this reporter gets out in print an early history of our hopeless presidency to make clear why he is sinking politically while prostituting for campaign contributions. The end of the Roman Empire is in repeat mode, so sad as this nation was indeed once upon a time a light onto the world.

  4. “As usual Israel and the United States are speaking with one voice: Israel’s.”

    Not to mention thinking with one brain — Bibi’s

  5. Obama is a person with ambitions but no principles. He’d sell his own grandmother to fulfill is ambitions.