WASHINGTON – The Obama administration is “fervently” seeking progress in the peace process as it continues talking to Israel to find a formula for moving forward with talks, senior White House adviser David Axelrod told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday evening.

“This is a critical juncture and we so fervently want to move forward, to get that two-state solution so that Israel can live in peace and security, and we’re going to keep pressing for that,” he told the Post, speaking ahead of an Israeli Embassy candlelighting ceremony in honor of Hanukka.

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Axelrod said he has no choice but to remain optimistic that there can be progress in Israeli- Palestinian talks, despite weeks of stalemate over settlements that have kept the sides away from the negotiating table.

Axelrod, who noted that he is the son of Jewish immigrants before lighting the hanukkia and reciting the blessings for the first night of the holiday, stressed the importance of the US-Israel relationship.

“I want to emphasize the close bonds between America and Israel, and obviously the American Jewish community and Israel, on a day like this when we’re reminded of the power of faith and commitment to religious freedom,” he said. “The survival and success and security of Israel is something that is very much in our minds and hearts.”

The embassy reception, which was followed by a free Ivri Lider concert for the Washington Jewish community, is the first of several Hanukka events in the US capital over the coming week.


On Thursday, the White House was due to hold its annual celebration hosted by President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama. The president’s remarks, the candlelighting and musical performance were to be Webcast on the White House site.

In connection with the celebration, which was to include hundreds of Jewish leaders and community members from around the country, the White House was set to hold closed policy briefings for those in attendance.

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