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Obama To Urge Action In Middle East Peace Process At UN

U.S. President Barack Obama is to address the 65th annual session of the UN General Assembly shortly after it opens later today.
U.S. President Barack Obama will use a speech to the United Nations General Assembly today to make a plea for international support for the Middle East peace process.

The call comes as Washington is trying to keep direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians on track.

In excerpts of his address to the UN General Assembly released by the White House, Obama urges world leaders to cast aside decades of divisions over the conflict, making sure "this time is different" from previous failed efforts.

Obama will say "peace must be made by Israelis and Palestinians," but that the rest of the world has "a responsibility to do our part as well."

The U.S. president will specifically urge countries that have pledged support for the Palestinians to meet their obligations for both “political and financial support” and to “stop trying to tear Israel down."

Obama will also call on all nations with an interest in Middle East peace to resist "rejectionists on both sides" who will seek to disrupt the process "with bitter words and with bombs."

Obama's move comes at a critical moment for his Middle East peace initiative.

Under the mediation of Washington, Israel and the Palestinian Authority held on September 3 their first direct talks since December 2008.

The U.S. proposal calls for a deadline of one year to achieve peace.

But Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas has threatened to walk out of the negotiations unless a 10-month-long freeze on Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank is extended.

Israel has rejected calls to extend the moratorium, which is set to expire on September 26.

However, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who is under intense pressure from right-wing settler elements in his ruling coalition, has said the scope of further building in some settlements could be limited.

The other core issues include the borders of a future Palestinian state, the political status of Jerusalem, the right of return for Palestinian refugees, and Israel's security.

On September 22, an Israeli security guard killed a Palestinian in an Arab neighborhood of Jerusalem, triggering clashes between police and rioters, further highlighting the challenges negotiators are facing.

"The killing of a Palestinian resident in Silwan in East Jerusalem represents a very dangerous Israeli violent escalation that threatens the peace efforts and can, if [it] continues, defeat the peace agenda," said Ghassan Khatib, a Palestinian Authority spokesman.

In addition to Obama, the leaders of China, Iran, and Turkey will take a turn at center stage at the UN today, amid global disputes over currency rates and nuclear proliferation.

On the sidelines of the UN General Assembly ending on September 30, Obama is to meet with the leaders of China, Japan, Colombia, Azerbaijan, and Kyrgyzstan.

based on agency reports