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Obama's last press conference as President: Status quo on Israeli-Palestinian issue unsustainable

He Said When He Came To Office Wanting To Do Everything He Could To Encourage Serious Peace Talks Between Israel And Palestine.

PTI | Updated on: 19 Jan 2017, 02:56:04 PM
US President Barack Obama (source: Getty)

Washington :

US President Barack Obama has said that he continues to be “significantly worried” about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the status quo is unsustainable, and dangerous for the people in the region as well as for America’s national security.

“I continue to be significantly worried about the Israeli-Palestinian issue. And I’m worried about it both because I think the status quo is unsustainable, that it is dangerous for Israel, that it is bad for Palestinians, it is bad for the region, and it’s bad for America’s national security,” Obama told media persons on Tuesday in his final press conference as the US President.

He said when he came to office wanting to do everything he could to encourage serious peace talks between Israel and Palestine and that his administration invested a lot of energy, time and effort in these eight years.

“Ultimately, what has always been clear is that we cannot force the parties to arrive at peace. What we can do is facilitate, provide a platform, encourage. But we can’t force them to do it,” he said.

“But in light of shifts in Israeli politics and Palestinian politics, a rightward drift in Israeli politics; a weakening of President Abbas’ ability to move and take risks on behalf of peace in the Palestinian Territories, in light of all the dangers that have emerged in the region and the understandable fears that Israelis may have about the chaos and rise of groups like ISIL (ISIS) and the deterioration of Syria,” Obama said.

“In light of all those things, what we at least wanted to do, understanding that the two parties wouldn’t actually arrive at a final status agreement, is to preserve the possibility of a two-state solution,” he said.

Stressing that there is no alternative to a two-State solution, the outgoing US President said that he has said this to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“I’ve said it inside of Israel. I’ve said it to Palestinians, as well,” he added.

“I don’t see how this issues gets resolved in a way that maintains Israel as both Jewish and a democracy, because if you do not have two states, then in some form or fashion you are extending an occupation, functionally you end up having one state in which millions of people are disenfranchised and operate as second-class residents. You can’t even call them citizens, necessarily,” Obama said.

“And so the goal of the resolution was to simply say that the growth of the settlements are creating a reality on the ground that increasingly will make a two-state solution impossible,” he asserted.

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First Published : 19 Jan 2017, 02:48:00 PM