Following Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's announcement on Thursday evening of his intention to withdraw his candidacy from the January 2010 presidential elections, Defense Minister Ehud Barak issued a statement in which he expressed hope that despite Abbas's declaration, the efforts to commence in negotiations and reach a peace deal essential to Israel's safety and the future of the entire area would not be hampered.
Barak stressed the importance of both sides' continued adherence to the principle of promoting negotiations toward an arrangement. The defense minister reiterated his support of exhausting every effort in order to reach a two-state solution, while safeguarding Israel's security interests.
Also commenting on Abbas's announcement was White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs, who told reporters Thursday that whatever Abbas decided, the US would "look forward to continuing to work with him and to continue in that collaboration to make the lives of Palestinians better."
Gibbs also stressed that "we have tremendous respect for President Abbas. He has been an important and historic leader for the Palestinian people and a true partner for the United States."
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also reacted to Abbas's speech, praising his leadership in working toward the creation of a Palestinian state next to Israel.
She ignored a question about whether she would try to persuade Abbas to stay on and said: "I look forward to working with President Abbas in any new capacity to help achieve this goal."
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