Obama defends Israel, says he wants Mideast peace

US President Barack Obama said on Thursday that he's working to get the Israelis and Palestinians to resume peace talks.

At a town hall meeting in Florida, Obamadeclined under questioning to condemn Israel for actions against thePalestinians. He said Israel is a strong US ally and that he willnever waver from helping Israel keep its people safe in a hostileMiddle East.

But Obama also said thesituation facing the Palestinian people is one that needs attention. He said he is seeking a solution in which Israelis andPalestinians can live side by side in peace.

But both parties mustreturn to the bargaining table, and that is something Obama said he is working to achieve.

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