Sept. 21 - U.S. President Barack Obama told the United Nations there was no substitute for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations or a short cut to peace. Deborah Lutterbeck reports
U.S. President Barack Obama, trying to avert a showdown on Palestinian statehood, told the United Nations Wednesday there was no substitute for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations or a short cut to peace. SOUNDBITE: U.S. President Barack Obama, saying: (English): "I am convinced that there is no short cut to the end of a conflict that has endured for decades. Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the UN - if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now. Ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians who must live side by side. 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." With U.S. credibility and influence in the Middle East at stake, Flag-waving Palestinians filled the squares of West Bank cities to rally behind the statehood initiative -- an initiative that Obama and Israel have strongly denounced. But it is the failure of 20 years of U.S.-brokered negotiations that has driven Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to take his quest for statehood to the United Nations -- a move that threatens to embarrass the United States by forcing it to protect its Israeli ally against the tide of world opinion. Obama met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the United Nations. SOUNDBITE: U.S. President Barack Obama, saying: (English): "America's commitment to Israel will never waiver and that our our pursuit of a just and lasting peace is one that is not only compatible but we think, puts Israel's security at the forefront." SOUNDBITE: Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying: (English): "The Palestinians deserve a state, but it is a state that ha to make that peace with Israel. Therefore, the attempt to short cut this process, not negotiate a peace, that attempt to get membership, state membership in the United Nations will not succeed." Obama is also due to meet Abbas and appeal to him not to present the U.N. with a membership application on Friday, setting the stage for an eventual Security Council vote that Washington says it will block. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters.