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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Obama to US Jews: peace cannot be imposed

US president in letter to head of Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations says is 'deeply committed to fulfilling role US must play for peace to be realized' but recognizes that for agreement to endure, 'peace cannot be imposed from outside'
Yitzhak Benhorin,7340,L-3879473,00.html   4/22/10

WASHINGTON - While US special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell makes his way to Israel [ Mitchell has apparently arrived in Israel today -- mf], American President Barack Obama vows he does not intend to force his own peace plan on the Middle East. In a letter to the Alan Solow, the chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, Obama wrote that he does plan to impose peace "from the outside".


Obama's letter came in response to concerns voiced by Jewish leaders over Washington's policies towards Israel. Recent times have seen increased behind-the-scenes activity by Jewish organizations aimed at curbing the trend.


"Since we have known each other for a long time," Obama wrote, "I am sure you can distinguish between the noise and distortion about my views that have appeared recently, and the actual approach of my administration toward the Middle East."


The American president stressed in his letter that, "for over 60 years, American presidents have believed that pursuing peace between Arabs and Israelis is in the national security interests of the United States." He added that he has made the pursuit of this peace a top priority since his first day in the White House.


He wrote, "I am deeply committed to fulfilling the important role the United States must play for peace to be realized, but I also recognize that in order for any agreement to endure, peace cannot be imposed from the outside; it must be negotiated directly by the leaders who are required to make the hard choices and compromises that take on history.


"We are determined to help them, particularly because the status quo does not serve the interests of Israel, the Palestinians, or the United States."


'Special relationship will not change'

The US president wished to stress that American-Israeli ties would not be damaged as a result of the current disagreement between his administration and the Netanyahu government. "Let me be very clear," he said, "We have a special relationship with Israel and that will not change.


"Our countries are bonded together by shared values, deep and interwoven connections, and mutual interests. Many of the same forces that threaten Israel also threaten the United States and our efforts to secure peace and stability in the Middle East. Our alliance with Israel serves our national security interests."


In conclusion, Obama wrote, "As we continue to strive for lasting peace agreement between Israel, the Palestinians, and Israel's neighbors, all sides should understand that our commitment to Israel's security is unshakable and that no wedge will be driven between us. We will have our difference, but when we do, we will work to resolve them as close allies."