Jones: ME conflict is Obama's top priority

Jones ME conflict is Ob

October 28, 2009 00:10
1 minute read.

US National Security Adviser James Jones said Tuesday that if he were able to direct President Barack Obama to solve only one problem in the world, it would be to bring peace to the Middle East. "This would be it," Jones said in a speech to sustained applause from the crowd at the J Street convention. "Finding a solution to this problem has ripples and echoes" across the region and the world, he explained. A packed crowd of 1,500 J Street activists attended the address, which took place during the organization's first annual conference. Though he had been criticized from some quarters of the Jewish community for speaking to the new left-wing lobby, which has taken some positions critical of the Israeli government, Jones praised audience members for showing up. "Congratulations on this great conference," he said. "You can be sure that this administration will be represented at all other future J Street conferences." Jones also addressed the issue of how to restart the peace talks and what to do about Iran, defending the administration's deal with Teheran to transfer some its stock of enriched uranium as setting back the nuclear program and the time frame in which Iran could reach "breakout" capacity. He emphasized, though, that halting Iran' enrichment of uranium in the first place remains the goal, and that "nothing is off the table" when it comes to dealing with the issue. Jones also harshly criticized the Goldstone Report and how it was compiled, though he suggested Israel should conduct an investigation, a position many of those in the crowd supported. Jones, who has recently addressed the American Task Force on Palestine and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, also reiterated earlier comments calling for an immediate resumption of peace talks, including on final-status issues such as refugees and Jerusalem, "without preconditions." He stressed that all parties - Israelis, Palestinians and other Arab countries - must take action because time is running out. He also restated the need for Israel to alleviate the suffering of Gaza, a line that got considerable applause from the audience, as did his call for the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit. He emphasized the importance the US places on the security of Israel and the "unshakable" bond between the two countries. "America's commitment to Israel's security is not just a slogan," he said, "but a pillar of our foreign policy."

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