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Obama Makes His Case for Israel To Resume Peace Efforts

President Barack Obama appealed directly to the Israeli people to recognize that settlements in occupied territory hurt peace prospects, Akiva Eldar reports.
U.S. President Barack Obama gestures during his address to Israeli students at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem March 21, 2013. Obama appealed directly on Thursday to the Israeli people to put themselves in the shoes of stateless Palestinians and recognise that Jewish settlement activity in occupied territory hurts prospects for peace. REUTERS/Baz Ratner (JERUSALEM - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR3FA4M
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For their far gentler criticism of Israel’s occupation policy than that expressed by President Barack Obama, the former heads of the Shin Bet security service who starred in the [Oscar nominated] documentary The Gatekeepers were castigated by Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren. If, instead of making his historic speech before young Israelis at the Jerusalem Conference Center, Obama had chosen to speak at the Knesset about the settlements damaging peace prospects and the forgiving attitude adopted by the Israeli establishment toward settlers who violate the law, one can easily imagine the volume of jeers he would have encountered from the Likud and the HaBayit HaYehudi party.

Minister Limor Livnat would have certainly been hard-pressed to conceal her expression of loathing at the sound of the words, “neither occupation nor expulsion are the answer.” And just imagine how the Minister of Housing, the settler Uri Ariel, would have reacted to the words of an “American gentile” in the Israeli Knesset, that “given the demographics west of the Jordan River (Obama did no use the terms Judea and Samaria, A.E.), the only way for Israel to endure and thrive as a Jewish and democratic state is through the realization of an independent and viable Palestine.”

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