Press Release
Contact Information: Hussein Ibish
May 18, 2009 - 12:00am

Washington, DC, May 18 -- The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) today expressed strong support for comments made by President Barack Obama following his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The President emphasized the American national commitment to achieving peace in the Middle East based on the creation of a Palestinian state, reiterating that, “I have said before and I will repeat again that it is, I believe, in the interests not only of the Palestinians but also the Israelis and the United States and the international community to achieve a two-state solution in which Israelis and Palestinians are living side by side in peace and security.”

ATFP warmly welcomed President Obama’s pointed statements regarding the need to halt all Israeli settlement activity, and that “all the parties involved have to take seriously obligations that they’ve previously agreed to.” President Obama said, “I shared with the prime minister the fact that under the road map, under Annapolis, there is a clear understanding that we have to make progress on settlements; that settlements have to be stopped in order for us to move forward.” His remarks come at a time when preliminary construction work is reportedly underway for a new Israeli settlement in the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank called “Maskiyot.”

President Obama also noted the importance to regional stability and security of achieving an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, stating that, “In order for us to potentially realign interests in the region in a constructive way, bolstering, to use the prime minister’s word, the Palestinian-Israeli peace track is critical. To the extent that we can make peace with the Palestinians -- between the Palestinians and the Israelis, then I actually think it strengthens our hand in the international community in dealing with the potential Iranian threat.”

ATFP also expressed strong appreciation for President Obama’s statements regarding the need to address the humanitarian requirements and quality of life of the Palestinian people. He noted that, “The humanitarian situation in Gaza has to be addressed,” and that, “if the people of Gaza have no hope, if they can’t even get clean water at this point, if the border closures are so tight that it is impossible for reconstruction and humanitarian efforts to take place, then that is not going to be a recipe for Israel’s long-term security or a constructive peace track to move forward.”

ATFP President Ziad J. Asali said, “we are deeply gratified by and strongly support President Obama’s extremely serious, constructive and pointed comments following his meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu. The President once again clearly demonstrated that he and his administration understand fully that an end-of-conflict agreement that involves the creation of a Palestinian state to live alongside Israel is in the interests of all parties, including Israel, and is vital to the national security of the United States. We strongly agree that such a negotiated peace agreement is essential to regional stability and security and to meet rising threats in the Middle East. ATFP welcomes the President’s concerns about the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people, especially in Gaza. Finally, we are especially pleased by President Obama’s unequivocal statement that Israeli settlement activity must stop, while duly noting our country’s commitment to Israel’s security. In his remarks today, President Obama has demonstrated the insight, commitment and leadership that will be required to build a strong, lasting and effective peace in the Middle East.”

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American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017