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Obama Tells UN Summit: 'There Is No Short Cut to Middle East Peace'

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  • Barack Obama
    (Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)
    U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the 66th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, September 21, 2011.
September 21, 2011|11:27 am

President Barack Obama addressed the U.N. General Assembly in New York Wednesday morning, saying that there is no short cut to peace in the Middle East.

"I am convinced that there is no short cut to the end of a conflict that has endured for decades," said Obama. "Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the U.N. If it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now.

"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.”

He continued: “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.”

Rather than voting on statehood, Obama said the U.N. must support peace by encouraging negotiations between Israel and Palestine.

He is scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas later today in what are being touted as critical talks for the peace process in coming months.

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“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,” Obama said. “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.”

 

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