In a video address to the HaaretzQ: with NIF conference in New York, U.S. President Barack Obama said that peace is the only way that Israel can remain a Jewish and democratic state. Obama condemned the recent spate of terrorist attacks against Israelis, and urged the Israeli government to bring to justice anyone who commits acts of violence against Palestinians.
Obama's address opened the first ever Haaretz conference in the United States, which was organized in conjunction with the New Israel Fund. Immediately after Obama's speech, President Reuven Rivlin addressed the conference. Also expected to address the conference was Robert Malley, Obama's senior adviser on the counterinsurgency campaign against ISIS.
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, is due to deliver one of the keynote speeches at the conference. Other speakers include PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat, former foreign and justice minister MK Tzipi Livni and Joint List chairman MK Ayman Odeh.
In his speech, Obama highlighted the special relationship between Israel and the United States and his administration's commitment to Israel's security, saying that both are unshakable. He added that security and military cooperation with Israel are currently at an unprecedented level.
"We are at a critical moment," Obama said. "Inexcusable violence has taken to many lives – Israelis, Palestinian and Americans. I have been clear that the Palestinian leaders have to condemn the ongoing attacks [against Israelis] and stop incitement. Individuals responsible for violence including violence against Palestinian must be brought to justice."
Obama added that the United States "call[s] on both sides to work to defuse tensions exercise restraint and prevent more loss of life and restore calm."
"The best way to reduce tensions and ensure Israel's security is to continue working in concrete ways towards a two-state solution," he added.
"At times like these it is important to reaffirm what we know is true so I will say it again – peace is necessary, peace is just and peace is possible. Peace is necessary because it is the only way to ensure true and lasting security for Israelis and Palestinians and the only way to ensure that Israel remains a democratic and Jewish state."
Obama went on to say that, "Peace is just because the two-state solution will finally bring Israelis the normalcy to which they are entitled and Palestinians the sovereign state and dignity they deserve. And peace is possible if leaders and people are willing to summon the will and courage to break free from the patterns of the past and forge a new future."