U.S. President Barack Obama said Wednesday that peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians will not come about through resolutions at the United Nations, issuing a warning to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ahead of his UN Security Council bid on Friday.
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Addressing world leaders at the opening of a UN General Assembly session, Obama put the onus on the two sides to break a yearlong impasse and get back to the negotiating table.
"There is no short cut to the end of a conflict that has endured for decades. Peace is hard work. Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations," Obama said.
"Ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians who must live side by side," Obama continued. "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."
Obama stressed that he believed in an independent Palestine, but one that will be achieved through negotiations with the Israelis.
"One year ago, I stood at this podium and called for an independent Palestine. I believed then – and I believe now – that the Palestinian people deserve a state of their own. But what I also said is that genuine peace can only be realized between Israelis and Palestinians themselves."
"Israel deserves recognition. It deserves normal relations with its neighbors. And friends of the Palestinians do them no favors by ignoring this truth, just as friends of Israel must recognize the need to pursue a two state solution with a secure Israel next to an independent Palestine."
Obama will follow up his speech with separate meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders as he seeks to coax both parties back to direct peace talks.
At the same time, U.S. officials are conceding that they most likely will not be able to prevent Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas from moving forward with a request to the UN Security Council for full Palestinian membership.
Recognizing that Abbas seems intent to proceed, Obama is expected to privately ask the Palestinian leader to essentially drop the move for statehood recognition after Abbas delivers a formal letter of intent to the UN on Friday.