White House: Israeli-Palestinian peace still priority

Obama leaves peace process out of important foreign policy speech, but senior administration official tells 'Post' that door is open if parties willing.

May 28, 2014 20:12
1 minute read.
Obama, Netanyahu and Abbas at the White House

Obama, Netanyahu, Abbas at White House 311 (R). (photo credit: Jason Reed / Reuters)


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WASHINGTON -- Peace between Israel and the Palestinians is still a top priority for US President Barack Obama despite his decision to omit the conflict from a major foreign policy address delivered Wednesday, one senior administration official told The Jerusalem Post.

"This was a speech focused primarily on security issues," the official said. "The fact that the president wasn’t able to mention every single issue the United States is involved with doesn’t mean that the issue isn’t important."

In September, Obama referred to the Middle East peace process as one of his two greatest foreign policy priorities going into his final three years as president.

"In the near term, America’s diplomatic efforts will focus on two particular issues: Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, and the Arab-Israeli conflict," Obama told the United Nations General Assembly in 2013.

"Real breakthroughs on these two issues— Iran’s nuclear program, and Israeli-Palestinian peace— would have a profound and positive impact on the entire Middle East and North Africa," he said.

His speech on Wednesday, at the United States Military Academy in New York, was an attempt by the president to lay out a broader US foreign policy moving forward.

"We continue to believe a lasting peace is in the interest of the United States, Israel, and the Palestinians.  The door is open if the parties demonstrate a willingness to come back and address the difficult issues," the official said.

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