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Obama: Only Negotiated Solution For Israel And Palestine

  • RFE/RL

President Barack Obama addresses the 66th United Nations General Assembly in New York.

President Barack Obama addresses the 66th United Nations General Assembly in New York.

In a last ditch effort to prevent the Palestinian Authority from seeking official recognition at the United Nations, U.S. President Barack Obama has repeated his call for Palestinian leaders to seek a negotiated solution with Israel.

Speaking at the opening session of the UN General Assembly on September 21, Obama said Israelis and Palestinians must find a negotiated solution to their long-standing dispute over the creation of a Palestinian homeland.

"Ultimately, it's the Israelis and the Palestinians, not us, who must reach agreement on issues that divide them: on borders and on security, on refugees and Jerusalem," he said.

"Ultimately, peace depends upon compromise among peoples who must live together long after our speeches are over, long after our votes have been tallied."

Obama had been due to meet in New York with the Palestinian and Israeli leaders as the United States continues diplomatic efforts to avoid an international confrontation over the Palestinian bid to be recognized as a state by the United Nations.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas is setting the stage for a showdown at the General Assembly on September 23, when he plans to seek official recognition from the world body.

The United States is strongly opposed to the move and has vowed to block it in the Security Council, where it has veto power.

But the UN General Assembly can recognize Palestine as a non-member state if two-thirds of its 193 member states vote 'yes.'

There are indications that the Palestinians may have the required support.

In his annual speech at the world body Obama also noted the historic changes that are sweeping the Arab world and which have this year toppled authoritarian regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya.

He also reiterated the U.S. commitment to fully withdraw its troops from Iraq by the end of the year and to continue to reduce its military presence in Afghanistan.

UN Security Council Urged To Sanction Syria

Barack Obama also used the summit to call on the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad for its violent suppression of the country's democratic uprising.

"For the sake of Syria and the peace and security of the world we must speak with one voice," he said. "There is no excuse for inaction. Now is the time for the United Nations Security Council to sanction the Syrian regime and to stand with the Syrian people."

Washington and its Western allies have argued for months that Syria must be condemned in the Security Council for the brutal crackdown against its own people which the UN says has killed at least 2,700.

But China and Russia, two of the Council's permanent members, have resisted a move to condemn Syria over concerns that it would trigger Western military action similar to NATO's intervention in Libya, which led to the fall of Muammar Qaddafi's regime.

Iran and North Korea Warned Over Nuclear Ambitions

In his speech, U.S. President Barack Obama also warned Iran and North Korea that they will face stiffer economic sanctions and deepening international isolation if they do not abandon their efforts to develop nuclear weapons.

Obama said Tehran "cannot demonstrate that its program is peaceful." He said if the Iranian government continues down the path towards weapon development, it "must be met with greater pressure and isolation."

As regards North Korea, the U.S. president called on Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons program and stop its "belligerent action" toward the South.

Obama also urged Russia to continue its cooperation on reducing the global stockpile of nuclear weapons.

with agency reports