Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated on Thursday his
commitment to peace with Israel and expressed opposition to violence.
Click here for full JPost coverage of Obama's visit to Israel
a joint press conference in Ramallah with visiting US President Barack Obama,
Abbas said that Palestinians believe that peace is necessary and inevitable. “We
also believe that it is possible,” he said.
“We believe that peacemaking,
as much as it requires political courage, also requires an expression of good
faith, a recognition of people’s rights, respect for the other, and
dissemination of a culture of peace and a commitment to international legitimacy
and its resolutions.”
Abbas stressed that “peace shall not be made
through violence, occupation, walls, settlements, arrests, siege and denial of
He described his talks with Obama as “good and
Abbas said he focused during his talks with the American
president on the “risks” of settlement activities and the need to release
Palestinians from Israeli prisons.
Abbas also said he was determined to
achieve reconciliation with Hamas so that Palestinians would be able to “march
towards making peace, security and stability.”
Obama began his remarks by
greeting Abbas with the Arabic word marhaba [“hello”].
Noting that he had
visited Ramallah five years ago, Obama said he has returned to the West Bank
because the US was “deeply committed to the creation of an independent and
sovereign state of Palestine.”
The Palestinians, Obama said, “deserve an
end to occupation and the daily indignities that come with it. Palestinians
deserve to move and travel freely, and to feel secure in their communities. Like
people everywhere, Palestinians deserve a future of hope – that their rights
will be respected, that tomorrow will be better than today and that they can
give their children a life of dignity and opportunity.
Palestinians deserve a state of their own.”
Obama hailed Abbas and PA
Prime Minister Salam Fayyad for the progress they have made in building
institutions of a Palestinian state.
Lashing out at Hamas, Obama said
that Palestinians in the Gaza Strip continued to live in misery and under
repression. “Hamas cares more about enforcing its own rigid dogmas than allowing
Palestinians to live freely, because too often it focuses on tearing Israel down
rather than building Palestine up,” he said.
Obama condemned the firing
of the rockets from the Gaza Strip toward Israel earlier on Thursday. “We saw
the continuing threat from Gaza again overnight, with the rockets that targeted
Sderot,” he said. “We condemn this violation of the important cease-fire that
protects both Israelis and Palestinians – a violation that Hamas has a
responsibility to prevent.”
Obama said he reaffirmed during his one-hour
meeting with Abbas that the US remained committed to realizing the vision of two
states, “which is in the interest of Israel, the US and the world.”
US, he added, sought an independent, viable and contiguous Palestinian state as
the homeland of the Palestinians, alongside the Jewish State of
“As I have said many times, the only way to achieve that goal is
through direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians themselves,” Obama
said. “There is no shortcut to a sustainable solution.”
Calling on both
Israelis and Palestinians not to give up on peace, Obama announced that US
Secretary of State John Kerry intended to spend significant time, effort and
energy in trying to bring about a closing of the gap between the two
Later, Obama met separately with Fayyad and a group of Palestinian
teenagers. He also attended a Palestinian folklore dabka
Addressing the US leader, a Palestinian teenager said: “We hope
you will make a state for us and end the suffering under occupation. We also
hope you will work to release our prisoners so that they could return to their
As Obama arrived in Ramallah, scores of Palestinians
demonstrated in the city center to express opposition to the visit.
protesters chanted slogans in support of Palestinian prisoners in Israel. Some
also criticized Abbas for meeting with Obama.
demonstrations took place in Bethlehem and Nablus, as well as in the Gaza Strip,
where protesters set fire to pictures of Obama.
Hamas reacted to Obama’s
statements in Ramallah by saying they were “poisonous and misleading.” Hamas
denounced Abbas’s remarks as “weak.”
“Obama’s statements reflect a total
bias in favor of the Israeli entity,” Hamas official Salah Bardaweel said.