Excerpts relate to the President's remarks about the war on terrorism,
Iran and the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Remarks of President Barack Obama-As Prepared for Delivery [Remarks may
have deviated from the speech as prepared for delivery]
Address to the United Nations General Assembly September 23, 2010
Men, women and children have been murdered by extremists from
Casablanca to London; from Jalalabad to Jakarta.
Now let me be clear once more: the United States and the international
community seek a resolution to our differences with Iran, and the door
remains open to diplomacy should Iran choose to walk through it. But
the Iranian government must demonstrate a clear and credible
commitment, and confirm to the world the peaceful intent of its nuclear
Last year, I pledged my best efforts to support the goal of two states,
Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, as
part of a comprehensive peace between Israel and all of its neighbors.
We have travelled a winding road over the last twelve months, with few
peaks and many valleys. But this month, I am pleased that we have
pursued direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians in
Washington, Sharm el-Sheikh and Jerusalem.
Now, many are pessimistic about this process. The cynics say that
Israelis and Palestinians are too distrustful of each other, and too
divided internally, to forge lasting peace. Rejectionists on both sides
will try to disrupt the process, with bitter words and with bombs. Some
say that the gaps between the parties are too big; the potential for
talks to break down is too great; and that after decades of failure,
peace is simply not possible.
But consider the alternative. If an agreement is not reached,
Palestinians will never know the pride and dignity that comes with
their own state. Israelis will never know the certainty and security
that comes with sovereign and stable neighbors who are committed to
co-existence. The hard realities of demography will take hold. More
blood will be shed. This Holy Land will remain a symbol of our
differences, instead of our common humanity.
I refuse to accept that future. We all have a choice to make. And each
of us must choose the path of peace. That responsibility begins with
the parties themselves, who must answer the call of history. Earlier
this month, at the White House, I was struck by the words of both the
Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Prime Minister Netanyahu said, "I came
here today to find an historic compromise that will enable both people
to live in peace, security, and dignity." President Abbas said, "We
will spare no effort and we will work diligently and tirelessly to
ensure these negotiations achieve their cause."
These words must be followed by action, and I believe that both leaders
have the courage to do so. But the road that they have to travel is
difficult, which is why I call upon Israelis and Palestinians - and the
world - to rally behind the goal that these leaders share. We know
there will be tests along the way, and that one is fast approaching.
Israel's settlement moratorium has made a difference on the ground, and
improved the atmosphere for talks. Our position on this issue is well
known. We believe that the moratorium should be extended. We also
believe that talks should press on until completed. Now is the time for
the parties to help each other overcome this obstacle. Now is the time
to build the trust - and provide the time - for substantial progress to
be made. Now is the time for this opportunity to be seized, so that it
doesn't slip away.
Peace must be made by Israelis and Palestinians, but each of us has a
responsibility to do our part as well. Those of us who are friends of
Israel must understand that true security for the Jewish state requires
an independent Palestine - one that allows the Palestinian people to
live with dignity and opportunity. And those of us who are friends of
the Palestinians must understand that the rights of the Palestinian
people will be won only through peaceful means - including genuine
reconciliation with a secure Israel.
Many in this hall count themselves as friends of the Palestinians. But
these pledges must now be supported by deeds. Those who have signed on
to the Arab Peace Initiative should seize this opportunity to make it
real by taking tangible steps toward the normalization that it promises
Israel. Those who speak out for Palestinian self-government should help
the Palestinian Authority politically and financially, and - in so
doing - help the Palestinians build the institutions of their state.
And those who long to see an independent Palestine rise must stop
trying to tear Israel down.
After thousands of years, Jews and Arabs are not strangers in a strange
land. And after sixty years in the community of nations, Israel's
existence must not be a subject for debate. Israel is a sovereign
state, and the historic homeland of the Jewish people. It should be
clear to all that efforts to chip away at Israel's legitimacy will only
be met by the unshakeable opposition of the United States. And efforts
to threaten or kill Israelis will do nothing to help the Palestinian
people - the slaughter of innocent Israelis is not resistance, it is
injustice. Make no mistake: the courage of a man like President Abbas -
who stands up for his people in front of the world - is far greater
than those who fire rockets at innocent women and children.
The conflict between Israelis and Arabs is as old as this institution.
And we can come back here, next year, as we have for the last sixty,
and make long speeches about it. We can read familiar lists of
grievances. We can table the same resolutions. We can further empower
the forces of rejectionism and hate. We can waste more time by carrying
forward an argument that will not help a single Israeli or Palestinian
child achieve a better life. We can do that.
Or, we can say that this time will be different - that this time we
will not let terror, or turbulence, or posturing, or petty politics
stand in the way. This time, we will think not of ourselves, but of the
young girl in Gaza who wants to have no ceiling on her dreams, or the
young boy in Sderot who wants to sleep without the nightmare of rocket
fire. This time, we should draw upon the teachings of tolerance that
lie at the heart of three great religions that see Jerusalem's soil as
sacred. This time we should reach for what's best within ourselves. If
we do, when we come back here next year, we can have an agreement that
will lead to a new member of the United Nations - an independent,
sovereign state of Palestine, living in peace with Israel.
Thursday, September 23, 2010