Obama Calls for Palestinian Self-Determination in Israel Speech

March 21, 2013 - 1:28 PM

US Obama Mideast Israel

President Barack Obama pauses during his speech at the Jerusalem Convention Center in Jerusalem, Israel, Thursday, March 21, 2013, (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(CNSNews.com) – President Barack called for a just peace between Israel and the Palestinians and stressed in remarks to Israelis what he thought was unjust treatment of Palestinians.

“The Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and justice must also be recognized. Put yourself in their shoes – look at the world through their eyes,” Obama said in a speech at the Jerusalem Convention Center. “It is not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of their own and lives with the presence of a foreign army that controls the movements of her parents every single day.

“It is not just when settler violence against Palestinians goes unpunished,” Obama continued. “It is not right to prevent Palestinians from farming their lands; to restrict a student’s ability to move around the West Bank; or to displace Palestinian families from their home. Neither occupation nor expulsion is the answer. Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland, Palestinians have a right to be a free people in their own land.”

It was part of Obama’s first visit to Israel, where he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

He stressed the U.S. has a strong commitment to Israel’s security and strong admonishment for terrorists in the region as well as governments in the Middle East.

“As more governments respond to popular will, the days when Israel could seek peace with a handful of autocratic leaders are over,” Obama said. “Peace must be made among peoples, not just governments. No one, no single step can change overnight what lies in the hearts and minds of millions, but progress with the Palestinians is a powerful way to begin, while sidelining extremists who thrive on conflict and thrive on division.”

Obama stressed that the U.S. opposed the action by the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian state without agreement between the two parties.

Obama also said, “Of course, Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with anyone who is dedicated to its destruction, but while I know you have had differences with the Palestinian Authority, I genuinely believe that you do have a true partner in President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad.”

“Arab States must adapt to a world that has changed,” Obama said. “The days when they could condemn Israel to distract their people from a lack of opportunity are over. Now is the time for the Arab World to take steps toward normalized relations with Israel.

“Meanwhile, Palestinians must recognize that Israel will be a Jewish state, and that Israelis have the right to insist upon their security. Israelis must recognize that continued settlement activity is counterproductive to the cause of peace, and that an independent Palestine must be viable– that real borders will have to be drawn,” he said.