Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu praised President Barack Obama’s efforts to dissuade Palestinian leaders from pushing for a United Nations vote on statehood, calling Obama’s actions a “badge of honor” for the president.
Minutes after Obama told the U.N. General Assembly that there is “no shortcut” to Mideast peace, the two leaders met in a U.N. conference room to reinforce their opposition to the Palestinians’ push for U.N. recognition as a sovereign state.
“The bonds between the U.S. and Israel are unbreakable,” Obama said. In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he told Netanyahu, “peace cannot be imposed on the parties. It’s going to have to be negotiated. … The ultimate goal of all of us is two states side-by-side living in peace.”
Netanyahu and Obama last spoke before cameras in the Oval Office this spring, when their body language was tense after a meeting that ran more than two hours. The meeting came soon after Obama called for peace negotiations to restart using Israel’s pre-1967 borders as the basis for settlement talks – borders that Netanyahu called “indefensible.”
This time, the two men appeared reserved; Obama leaned in as Netanyahu talked.
“I want to thank you, Mr. President, for standing with Israel and supporting peace,” Netanyahu said. “We both agree that Palestinians and Israelis should sit down and negotiate. This is the only way to get a stable and durable peace.”
“You’ve also made it clear that the Palestinians deserve a state, but it’s a state that has to make that peace with Israel,” the Israeli leader said. “Therefore, the attempt to shortcut this process and not negotiate a peace and that attempt to get state membership in the United Nations will not succeed. … I think the Palestinians want to achieve a state, but they’re not prepared yet to make peace with Israel.”