Monday, May 18, 2009

Said It To His Face

I know many progressives and members of J Street have been anxiously waiting to see how President Obama would handle a meeting with Israel's Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu especially when it comes to a two state peace solution with the Palestinans. Well even though we don't know what was said behind closed doors I would say what President Obama had to say in front of the cameras was encouraging.

One subject that is particularly tricky and contentious is the issue of Israel's settlements in the West Bank. And to my warm suprise President Obama wasn't afraid to address the issue publicly.

Haaretz reports today that “Israel has moved ahead with a plan to build a new settlement in the northern West Bank for the first time in 26 years, pursuing a project the United States has already condemned as an obstacle to peace efforts.” In a much-anticipated press conference today with Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, President Obama said that new Israeli settlements “have to be stopped”:

OBAMA: Now, Israel is going have to take some difficult steps as well. And I shared with Prime Minister the fact that, under the road map, under Annapolis there’s a clear understanding that we have to make progress on settlements, that settlements have to be stopped in order for us to move forward. That’s a difficult thing to recognize, but it’s an important one. And it has to be addressed. I think the humanitarian situation in Gaza has to be addressed

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