"President Obama's message was crystal clear that the only path to sustainable peace is direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, not what goes on in the corridors of the UN," said AJC Executive Director David Harris. "The goal of Israeli-Palestinian peace is not at issue but, as President Obama so aptly declared, 'the question is how do we reach that goal.'" AJC has long supported a negotiated two-state settlement.
"Genuine peace can only be realized between Israelis and the Palestinians themselves," President Obama said in his address before the UN General Assembly today. "Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations," said Obama. "Ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians – not us – who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them."
Harris praised President Obama for his remarks regarding the very real concerns of Israelis, who have not known even one day of true peace since their country declared independence 63 years ago.
"Lasting peace must acknowledge the very real security concerns that Israel faces every single day," said Obama. "Let us be honest with ourselves: 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."
Obama laudably told the world leaders assembled at the UN that security threats to Israel cannot be dismissed. "Israel deserves recognition. It deserves normal relations with its neighbors. And friends of the Palestinians do them no favors by ignoring this truth," said Obama.
The president also reiterated the solid support of the U.S. for Israel. "America's commitment to Israel's security is unshakable, and our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring," said Obama.
"If the Palestinians are truly serious about a viable two-sate deal, they should stop the counter-productive brinkmanship at the UN and return to the negotiating table now," said Harris. "They have been absent from that table for too long. In fact, the conversation between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders could begin in New York this week, as Prime Minister Netanyahu has offered."