'Netanyahu taking coalition further than it wants to go'

Obama refuses to condemn Jewish state, says that it is not good for Israel's security to have millions of individuals feeling hopeless.

obama pointing 311 (photo credit: AP)
obama pointing 311
(photo credit: AP)

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

At a town hall meeting in Tampa, 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.

The administration's efforts to jump start peace talks have stalled since Obama tookoffice a year ago.

The US President on Thursday blamed internal political strife in Israel as well as among the Palestinians for hampering the peace process.

He spoke of problems that Prime Minister BinyaminNetanyahu had had to deal with within his own governing coalition, saying that the premier "is making efforts to move alittle bit further than his coalition wants to go."

Obama said that while Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas genuinely desirespeace, he has had to deal with the terrorist group Hamas, whose power and grip on the Gaza Strip has only grown in recent years.While Obama referred to Israel as "one of our strongest allies,"  he also stated that the plight of the Palestinians issomething that cannot be ignored. Obama went on to say that it is not good for Israel's security to have millions of individuals feeling hopeless.