Washington: US President Barack Obama on Friday underlined his determination to press ahead with negotiations between Israel and Palestine even if the ongoing direct talks between the leaders of the two countries break down, saying "it`s a risk worth taking”.
"It`s a risk worth taking because the alternative is status quo that is unsustainable. And so if these talks break down, we`re going to keep on trying," Obama said at a White House news conference.
Highlighting the United States` active participation in the Middle East peace process, he said: "So what we`ve done is to bring the parties together, to try to get them to recognise that the path for Israeli security and Palestinian sovereignty can only be met through negotiations."
However, Obama acknowledged that these are going to be "tough negotiations”.
"There are enormous hurdles between now and our end point. There are going to be a whole bunch of folks in the region who want to undermine these negotiations," he said.
"But it is a risk worth taking, because I firmly believe that it is in America`s national-security interests, as well as Israel`s national-security interests as well as in the interests of the Palestinian people, to arrive at a peace deal."
Obama also emphasised that Israel and Palestine need to cooperate mutually in order to reach a solution.
"The two parties need each other. That doesn`t mean it`s going to work; ultimately, it`s going to be up to them. We can facilitate, we can encourage, we can tell them that we will stand behind them in their efforts and are wiling to contribute as part of the broader international community in making this work...But ultimately, the parties have to make these decisions for themselves," he said.
Obama recognised that if a solution is found to the Israel-Palestine standoff, it can help the US further its interests in the Middle East.
"Over the long term, it has the opportunity, by the way, also, to change the strategic landscape in the Middle East in a way that would be very helpful. It would help us deal with an Iran that has not been willing to give up its nuclear program," he said.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be flying to the Middle East for next meetings on September 14th and 15th.