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Obama downplays settlements as main obstacle to peace
Published Thursday 21/03/2013 (updated) 23/03/2013 14:08
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US President Barack Obama and President Mahmoud Abbas shake hands
at a news conference in Ramallah, March 21. (Reuters/Larry Downing)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- US President Barack Obama on Thursday downplayed continued Israeli settlement building as an obstacle to the peace process, and he called on the Palestinians to resume talks.

In a joint news conference in Ramallah, Obama said both sides should overcome their respective concerns about one another's commitment to the peace process.

"That's not to say settlements aren't important, that's to say if we resolve the (main) problems, then settlements will be resolved," Obama said, referring to the Palestinians' refusal to negotiate while Israel continues to build on Palestinian land.

"If to begin the conversation we have to get everything right from the outset ... then we're never going to get to the broader issue, which is how do you structure a state of Palestine," Obama said.

President Mahmoud Abbas, speaking directly after Obama, responded defiantly that the Palestinian position on settlements had not changed.

"It isn't just our perception that settlements are illegal. It is a global perspective. Everybody views settlements not only as a hurdle, but more than a hurdle to a two-state solution," he said.

"We are asking for nothing outside the international legitimacy. It is the responsibility of the Israeli government to halt settlement activities so we can at least speak."

He added: "We hope that the Israeli government understands this. We hope they listen to the many opinions inside Israel itself speaking of the illegality of settlements."

Neither side directly referenced a report in The New York Times on Thursday suggesting Abbas would ask Obama for help securing an unannounced settlement freeze from Israel's prime minister.

But Abbas said that during his meeting with Obama, "We spoke about (settlements) with Mr President (Obama) and we clarified our point of view about how we can reach a solution."

He also said that "We never gave up our vision, whether now or previously."

But Abbas described the meeting with Obama as positive, saying he left the room with "renewed confidence that the United States ... will help remove obstacles to achieving a just peace.

In Obama's opening remarks in Ramallah, the president said that the United States was "deeply committed to the creation of an independent sovereign state of Palestine."

He praised Abbas' work along with Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to build the necessary institutions for a Palestinian state and acknowledged the peaceful, popular resistance against Israel's wall.

"I think of the villages that hold peaceful protests because they understand the importance of nonviolence," Obama said.

He also condemned Hamas' refusal to renounce violence and the firing of rockets from Gaza hours earlier, and said "some people" opposed an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal because "they benefit from the current conflict."

Obama was to remain in Ramallah for the afternoon to meet with Palestinian young people at a youth center in Al-Bireh, a Palestinian town near Ramallah.

He was scheduled to speak in Jerusalem Thursday evening and visit Bethlehem on Friday before ending his three-day visit to the region with a visit to the Jordanian capital and Petra.

Palestinian analysts had not predicted any progress from the visit.

Muhammad Jadallah, a Palestinian leader in Jerusalem, told Ma’an that "We are a nation that welcomes all visitors but it looks like the Palestinians are not satisfied with Mr Obama’s visit."

"They don’t respect him, and he is the worst US president. He used the (UN Security Council) veto to help the settlements and used it again against the establishment of a Palestinian state.

"For these reasons we can’t welcome the president, and we can’t consider him a peacemaker just because he got a Nobel prize for peace -- he didn’t bring any peace during his presidency."

He added: "After every visit of a US president to our land, we watch peace slip further away."
1 ) obama left the / PLO--hanging
21/03/2013 15:10
on a tall tree

2 ) obama left the / PLO--hanging
21/03/2013 15:10
on a tall tree

3 ) Mel / USA
21/03/2013 15:37
ARAB/MUSLIM/CHRISTIAN peoples,POWERFUL,wealthy,Israel EQUALLY have the human right,too,to DEFEND THEMSELVES,& be "secure" from ATTACKS by PRE-1948!An existential,VASTLY bigger, ACTUALITY,daily! ORWELLIAN OBAMA! "OBAMA,U PAID FOR THIS DION".Obama is visiting'pretty'compliant sites,where PA leaders hide their Zionist shackles under silk suits &ironed on smiles!Obama! GO to the blood-stained ground to see how'good' our 'US-WEPS-Inc' business is!Pro- is ant

4 ) AKeenReader / UK
21/03/2013 16:06
President Obama came to lecture the Palestinians with words about settlements as " resolve other problems and settlements issue will be resolved". Does it mean that US's concern with Iran's nukes will be resolved if US resolve Iran's other concerns about Israel's nukes first? Obama & all US's govts are and have been hypocrites. Over two decades has passed especially his Cairo lecture and yet he talks about their commitment to an independant Palestinian state. Don't trust his words anymore.

5 ) Morqos / Mexico
21/03/2013 16:44
He should have better saved his money instead of going to Palestine to speak without saying anything. How to negotiate with a country that is not willing to show the least good will to do so?

6 ) Michael / Daniel 12:1
21/03/2013 17:14
Have you been a victim of the false prophets and ministers that teach the LIE that, 'believing in the death, shed blood, burial and resurrection of Christ brings salvation'. Are you aware that the TRUE GOSPEL OF SALVATION came before the cross and had nothing to do with Christ's death burial and resurrection. The Gospel according to John 5: 24 is, Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into judgement.

7 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
21/03/2013 19:59
Settlements are not the issue. If they are, then we Israelis say that we will have a complete freeze on settlements if the Palestinians have a complete freeze on violence. That, of course, will not happen. Palestinians will always shoot rockets, try to kill us with rocks and firebombs, and teach their kids that blowing themselves up is a good thing.

8 ) Colin Wright / USA
21/03/2013 20:26
If we don't get Israel to stop building the settlements (as she did, incidentally, agree to do nine years ago), then we haven't got to the main problem, which is how do you get Israel to actually honor the agreements she makes.

9 ) Colin Wright / USA
21/03/2013 20:34
This reminds me of Chamberlain endlessly conceding to Hitler's demands and then trying to force the Czechs to go along. Of course, this is a tad unfair to Chamberlain; he was a man of leonine courage compared to Obama.

10 ) PA (fr) / Pa
21/03/2013 20:41
Abbas' term of office expired January, 2009. For whom is Abbas speaking? Only his own family tribe! To Michael #6: Actually, you just need to accept the covering of the blood of the Lamb Who was slain for your atonement; paint the doorposts and lintel of the heart-home with the blood, and the angel of death WILL pass over, giving LIFE to all who shelter within with you!

11 ) Also / True
21/03/2013 21:10
"It is the responsibility of the Palestine government to speak,
so we can eventually halt settlement activities," or the situation
will remain unchanged for another 20 years, that is
if Palestine's government and fiscal situation last that long !!

12 ) Colin Wright / USA
21/03/2013 21:11
obama left the PLO hanging #1 'on a tall tree.' Good. In a few years, you'll be begging for the PLO and the 1967 borders. But by then it will be too late.

13 ) Maureen / Australia
21/03/2013 21:28
#6 No One need read a book of any kind to know that life is fragile. Universely it is taught to love God, love your neighbour (even if you don't like them) and do unto others as you would have them do to you. We all, being mere humans, sometimes take a lifetime to learn these golden rules...

14 ) Mike / USA
21/03/2013 22:01
Obama has been neutered. Netanyahu personally removed his genitals. This was just a follow up visit to make sure nothing has grown back. But on the bright side it appears Obama is much calmer and better with children.

15 ) Tobias / USA
21/03/2013 22:03
"Obama down-plays, and Abbas Up-plays" the settlement Issue. However, nothing will change wthout a negotiated agreement, and Israel can easily wait in it's secure and prosperous position, while Palestine has yet to become even a real state, and meanwhile is in danger of financial colapse !!

16 ) Aaron / USA
21/03/2013 23:00
Brian, there is an almost complete absence of violence coming out of the West Bank, but it's in the West Bank that Israel is building, and Gaza from which it withdrew. The clear message to the Palestinians: Israel withdraws only in response to violence, and expands in response to non-violence. Try graphing Palestinian violence and Israeli settlement construction for the years since 1970; there were many years with almost no Palestinian violence, but the settlements just grew faster.

17 ) Yehuda Solomon / Israel
21/03/2013 23:25
@ 6), Thanks for all that but these boards are not meant for conversion. Don't you people have missionaries for that ??? ... Separately ... on a more related theme (like the subject of this article, Mike ... that WOULD be good for commenting on ...) ... The last 4 paragraphs of this report says it all. The only change I would make to Muhammad Jadallah's comments is his very last comment ... SHOULD read: " ... we have already watched peace permanently slip away." THAT would be accurate.

18 ) Colin Wright / USA
21/03/2013 23:58
To Tobias #15 '"Obama down-plays, and Abbas Up-plays" the settlement Issue. However, nothing will change wthout a negotiated agreement, and Israel can easily wait in it's secure and prosperous position...' Good. I need you to keep telling yourself that.

19 ) southparkbear / usa
22/03/2013 00:12
reading between the lines I understood Obama saying PLO will hier hamas to dig a tunnel from the mukataa to the Bible belt where they will be welcome

20 ) shirleyS / Australia
22/03/2013 00:39
whatajoke it was all aface saving US propaganda trip to redemanize the palestinians and and put smiley face on OBAMA in front of world what ashow and the PA are fully to blame and likes of MAAN NEWS PROMOTING him as true supporter of the 2 state solutuin which by the way that the PA and maan news try to tell us is yet to happen NO MATTER WHAT ISREAL DOES THE STATE OF PALESTINE EXSISTS IT IS THE US OBAMA AND ISREAL THAT DONT EXCEPT IT AND THE COLLABORATOR PA wHO ACT LIKE IT STILL ISNT REAL

21 ) JoeUSA / USA
22/03/2013 01:19
#15 . You are right. What incentive does the Israeli public face to change the status quo ? I am not calling for violence .However , a public responds to cost. When the cost is high for the Israelis to maintain the occupation and maintain the security of settlements and the settlers , when their life is turned up side down , their economy in chambles due to the cost of maintaing such an occupation and lack fo tourism dollars , then, they will push their leaders to come to a peace agreement.

22 ) gabi / austalia
22/03/2013 01:49
#7 Brian, the rockets get fired from Gaza - after repeated incursions into Gaza by Israel. The settlements are being built in the West Bank. A geography lesson needed? Arafat foreswore violence in 2007 and what did he get in return? More settlements. Read Uri Avnery on the subject - or is he anti-Semite too? And # 8 - when did Israel honor ANY agreement? UN res. 273 admitted Israel to the UN on the basis that they agreed to abide by res. 194 - and immediately reneged. So why talk about honor?

23 ) Michael Craig Clark / Facebook
22/03/2013 02:33
10 ) PA (fr) / Pa, Still doesn't give you Eternal life as that of John 5:24 so what good is it.

24 ) Colin Wright / USA
22/03/2013 03:08
The Israelis love 'em. I've been telling them they can have him -- for free. Just think: pull the string and he says 'I love Israel.' AND there's no charge. Don't pass up this one...

25 ) Truth / Be told
22/03/2013 07:10
#7 Cohen you are a complete liar. stealing land is Illegal.and dont give me that crap its your land. Thats bullshit ,a large % of you are kharsars,converts non semetic. Stop the BS AND TAKE RESPONSIBLITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS.

26 ) gabi / australia
22/03/2013 07:51
You're gloating again, Tobias. Not a pretty look.

27 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
22/03/2013 08:55
So if stealing land is illegal, then my town here in the west bank is legally Jewish, you dork! I live in a town that was legally owned by Jews before 1948, then the Arab armies came and overran it, slaughtering the survivors in a massive war crime. You're telling me that I can legally stay here in the west bank, so thank you. Unlike your ranting, we settlers are mostly indeed responsible for our actions. Why don't you tell your Pal friends to do the same?

28 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
22/03/2013 08:58
Aaron #16 - you obviously are clueless. THere is still a massive amount of Palestinian violence in the west bank, and there is still a 96% construction freeze on Jewish towns. Go ask Peace Now how many new settlements there are in the west bank in the last 10 years. The answer is zero. There are a few illegal outposts and I too support their dismantling. The #1 obstacle to peace is Hamas. We all know that. You don't. You live in a giant illegal occupied settlement yourself. You must be an expert

29 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
22/03/2013 09:18
Gabe - there was no incursion to Gaza, yet rockets were fired yesterday. Your theory is clearly wrong. Go ask Peace Now - there are no new settlements since 2007. None. And there has been tons of violence since 2007 including thousands of illegal rockets fired from Gaza at Israeli civilians. So you're wrong again. Settlements is NOT the issue. Gaza/Hamas is. There is either a 3-state solution or no peace. Tell that to Obama, cuz he doesn't get it.

30 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
22/03/2013 09:21
#25 you're kinda funny with your racial profiling of Jews. Just last week somebody posted on Maan some insane accusation of Jewish racial purity in our "apartheid" Israel - one of the most ignorant yet funny statements I've seen in a long time. Jews range from pure white to pure black with everything inbetween, yet Israel haters talk about claptrap like "racial purity". I'm a "kharsar" am I? Really? Are you a geneticist? Or just an armchair hack with a keyboard?

31 ) Mike / USA
22/03/2013 11:29
Can neutered animals chase rabbits around a track? Just curious.

32 ) Brian / # 30
22/03/2013 13:43
Brian , your a convert stealing land thats not yours saying god gave it to you . thats the point kharsar are not semites are they ?.

33 ) Hey / Cohen
22/03/2013 15:48
I see how the black Jews are treated in Israel. not so good .i also see how Arabs & Christians are treated too and what the crazy rabbis say. I seen your comments on ynet,not to nice Brian,you have alot of hate .Anything you want to mention.

34 ) Michael Craig Clark / facebook
22/03/2013 19:44
17 ) Yehuda Solomon / Israel; who do you think supports the Zionist lies except these deceived Zionist "Christians" ...get the idea?

35 ) gabi / australia
23/03/2013 01:26
# 29 - your response is a bit garbled? What I said was that Israel has perpetrated many incursions into Gaza since the agreement at the end of last year - and this is one response from Gaza. I also said that since 2007 there has been much increased settlement biding in the West Bank. And that cannot be denied. So what was your point? Where is your home town in the WB that is legally Jewish? What was the massacre you talk about? It certainly wasn't Tiberius - the Palmach saw to that.

36 ) Hollow / Comment #31
23/03/2013 01:28
#31 ive never seen a greyhound with a sack ,have you ?.

37 ) Robert / U.S.
23/03/2013 02:41
#7 Brian Cohen. your comment is asinine.

23/03/2013 19:52
The President understands what any intelligent person should: there can be no peace. Israel wants to remain a Jewish state run by their own values, which are a combination Jewish and Western (and for that the Jews must be in the heavy majority and in control) and the Muslims around Israel do not want such a Jewish state to exist. The reasons do not matter. Borders are irrelevant. If it were a matter of borders, it would have been settled long ago. So pick your side. I happen to like Israel.

39 ) vudu / 424
23/03/2013 21:47
40 vetos against palestinians in favor of occupation

40 ) ian / australia
24/03/2013 08:42
#27 "I live in a town that was legally owned by Jews before 1948..." Good for you Brian, but what about Palestinians who could say the same: that they lived somewhere THEY "legally owned", say in Jaffa or Jerusalem, before being booted out in 1948 They'd be overjoyed to turn back the clock to pre-Nakba days and create a state based on who "legally owned" what THEN. You could stay in your Jewish-owned "West Bank" town and they could pretty much spread out in all the rest.

41 ) ian / australia
24/03/2013 08:44
#28 "THere is still a massive amount of Palestinian violence in the west bank..." Nifty BC. Of course there's Palestinian violence in the WB, even "a massive amount". But how it differs from Israeli violence in the WB is that hardly anyone is seriously hurt and there are NO fatalities. Not for years. Because it's rock throwing by teenagers, not lethal "riot dispersal" or killing for fun (like Lubna Hanash may her soul rest in perfect peace) which despite all the lethal intent in the world,

42 ) ian / australia
24/03/2013 08:44
(contd.) does very little harm.

43 ) ian / australia
24/03/2013 08:46
#28 "...and there is still a 96% construction freeze on Jewish towns." Also nifty. Yeah, Israel doesn't BUILD new illegal settlements. It announces new apartments in OLD illegal settlements or menacing plans for EXPANSION like E1 or the Etzion Bloc where you commute. But the message isn't lost on Palestinians who see clearly, through the various guises, Israeli plans to harrass, demoralise, alienate and ultimately "disappear" them.

44 ) ian / australia
24/03/2013 08:55
#30 "Jews range from pure white to pure black with everything inbetween..." Yes they do, and obviously come from all different ancestries, racial backgrounds with different kinds of DNA, which, though not very "biblical", the seed of Abraham and all that, is how it is. The weird thing though is that Jews, inhomogeneous racially, are unified by a religion which pretends they are (homogeneous racially) and uses it to justify the on-going theft of land from its inhabitants and rightful owners.

45 ) ian / australia
24/03/2013 08:56
#30 '...yet Israel haters talk about claptrap like "racial purity".' It's simpler than that Brian. Of course Israel isn't "racially pure". Because Jews aren't "racially pure". Noone is. But it does have a sizable non-Jewish minority which though enfranchised, is discriminated against in myriad other ways.

46 ) ian / australia
24/03/2013 08:57
#30 "I'm a "kharsar" am I? Really? Are you a geneticist?" I don't care what you are Brian (my hunch is Yemeni-American, but just a hunch, probably wrong) but it would nice to see you once in a while (a) admit some fault (on behalf of Israel) and (b) show some empathy, some common decency towards your Palestinian brothers and sisters in the WB who live, as the POTUS said last week "with the presence of a foreign army that controls [their] movements...every single day."

47 ) ian / australia
24/03/2013 08:58
(contd.) And here's (c), just for fun...tell me where you think the border between sovereign Israel and sovereign Palestine should be. (I am with Khaled Meshaal: "a Palestinian state in the 1967 lines with Jerusalem as its capital, without any settlements or settlers [and] not an inch of land swaps.")

48 ) ian / australia
24/03/2013 12:41
Freeze shmeeze. A total distraction. If they're never going to honour it, why ask for it? Obama has dumped it as unattainable and a waste of effort. Only Abbas stubbornly insists on it, like a stuck record, which just makes him look uncooperative (if not senile). The important thing is to return to "negotiations", the pointless ritual of "peace talks"...but to EXPOSE it as futile. To BROADCAST the failure. To make it clear that Israel refuses to offer anything remotely serious and rejects EVERY

49 ) ian / australia
24/03/2013 12:41
(contd.) reasonable Palestinian proposal. (The point is to START making proposals. Lots of them. Not refusing to talk because Israel won't open up the gaols!) And when the point has been accepted by the intl comm, the model of "negotiations" leading to "agreement" can be dumped too. And something new tried. Like the law.

50 ) Michael Craig Clark / facebook
27/03/2013 20:34
17 ) Yehuda Solomon / Israel, you do plenty of your mouthing off with your Zionist religion that has caused this whole mess in the first place!
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