Obama meets Netanyahu and Abbas

By Jessica Elgot, September 23, 2009
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Obama: Middle East is matter of "urgency"

Obama: Middle East is matter of "urgency"

President Barack Obama has told Israeli and Palestinian leaders that they must show the will to “break the deadlock that has trapped generations”.

Mr Obama met Israeli Prime Minster Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas separately in New York, before chairing a trilateral meeting.

The meeting was denounced by many politicians and commentators as nothing more than a photo opportunity, given that talks between US Special Envoy George Mitchell with Mr Netanyahu and Mr Abbas last week in Jerusalem and Ramallah failed to bring agreement.

Speaking beforehand, Mr Obama urged co-operation. "We have to summon the will to break the deadlock that has trapped generations of Israelis and Palestinians in an endless cycle of conflict and suffering," he said.
"We cannot continue the same pattern of taking tentative steps forward and then stepping back. Success depends on all sides acting with a sense of urgency."

We cannot continue the same pattern of taking tentative steps forward and then stepping back.

Barack Obama

Mr Netanyahu's spokesman said the Prime Minister had been pleased with progress made in the meeting and said the American President had been complimentary about Israel’s efforts towards peace in recent weeks.

The UN Goldstone report into alleged war crimes committed by both sides during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza was also discussed in the meeting.
 
Mr Netanyahu was said to have told Mr Obama: "This is a test for the international community. If it wants Israel to take risks for the sake of peace, it cannot prevent Israel from protecting itself."

Last updated: 11:43am, September 23 2009