Obama at UN: Israel Should Extend Settlement Freeze

The U.S. president, while addressing world leaders at the United Nations annual ministerial meeting, said Israel, Palestinians should press ahead with peace talks.

United States President Barack Obama called on Israel to extend its moratorium on settlement building while speaking at a United Nations meeting on Thursday.

"Israel's settlement moratorium has made a difference on the ground," Obama said while addressing world leaders from 192 member nations at the UN annual ministerial meeting in New York.

Obama NY - AP - Sept 23, 2010
AP

The Obama administration has been extremely involved in a new effort to bring peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the region last week for a second round of direct talks between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The U.S.-brokered direct talks face a major test at the end of this month when Israel's 10-month partial moratorium on new construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is set to end.

"Our position on this issue is well known. We believe that the moratorium should be extended," Obama said.

He added that the moratorium has improved the atmosphere of the peace talks, which he said should press on until they are completed.

He called on Arab states to support the Palestinians within the framework of the peace talks and move toward normalizing relations with Israel.

"Many in this hall count themselves as friends of the Palestinians," Obama said. "But these pledges must now be supported by deeds."

"We can waste more time by carrying forward an argument that will not help a single Israeli or Palestinian child achieve a better life. We can do that," he said.

"Or, we can say that this time will be different - that this time we will not let terror, or turbulence, or posturing, or petty politics stand in the way."

The U.S. president also spoke about the situation with Iran, who many fear are trying to develop nuclear weapons.

"The United States is open to diplomacy with Iran but the Islamic Republic must prove that its nuclear ambitions are peaceful," Obama said.

"The United States and the international community seek a resolution to our differences with Iran, and the door remains open to diplomacy should Iran choose to walk through it," Obama said. "But the Iranian government must demonstrate a clear and credible commitment, and confirm to the world the peaceful intent of its nuclear program."