24 Sep 2010

Obama urges support for Middle East peace talks

4:49 pm on 24 September 2010

United States President Barack Obama has urged those attending the United Nations General Assembly to put aside pessimism and support the recently relaunched Middle East peace talks.

Mr Obama said that while the parties themselves must answer what he described as the call of history, the world should rally behind them, and urged Israel and the Palestinians to press on with the talks.

Mr Obama said those longing for an independent Palestine must not try to tear down Israel, and called on Israel to extend a moratorium on building new settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

He accepted that many remained pessimistic about the peace process, with cynics saying the two sides were too distrustful of each other, and too divided internally, to forge lasting peace.

However, Mr Obama called on assembly members to consider the alternative.

"If an agreement is not reached, Palestinians will never know the pride and dignity that comes with their own state," he said.

"Israelis will never know the certainty and security that comes with sovereign and stable neighbours who are committed to co-existence.

"The hard realities of demography will take hold. More blood will be shed. This Holy Land will remain a symbol of our differences, instead of our common humanity."

"Peace must be made by Israelis and Palestinians, but each of us has a responsibility to do our part as well."