There is hope for Middle East peace: Obama

Obama believes that a Mideast peace pact is very well possible.

Washington: US President Barack Obama believes that a Middle East peace agreement is very well possible in his first term as he said that this is the right opportunity and this needs to be seized.

"I think so," Obama told the Israeli TV in an interview when asked whether a peace agreement can be reached in the first term of his presidency.

Observing that he had an excellent meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in White House, Obama said the Israeli leader is somebody who understands that they have got a fairly narrow window of opportunity.

"On the Palestinian side, moderates like Abu Mazen and Fayyad are, I think, willing to make the concessions and engage in negotiations that can result in peace. But their
time frame in power may be limited if they aren`t able to deliver for their people," he said.

"There`s a constant contest between moderates and rejectionists within the Arab world. And then there`s the demographic challenges that Israel is going to be facing if it
wants to remain not only a Jewish state but a democratic state. So you look at all these pressures and you say to yourself, we probably won`t have a better opportunity than we
have right now. And that has to be seized" he said.

Obama`s comments came as his administration stepped up appeals for the two sides to return to direct negotiations.

Referring to his conversation with Netanyahu, Obama said that he had the impression that Prime Minister isn`t interested in just occupying a space, a position, but he`s interested in being a statesman and putting his country on a more secure track.

"So I hope that opportunity is seized," he said. At the same time, Obama acknowledged that there have been differences with Israel.
"I think that our view on settlements, for example, is consistent with all previous US administrations. But the fact of the matter is, is that that view was always voiced not in the spirit of trying to undermine Israel`s security, but to strengthen it -- because we believe strongly that if we can achieve calm on the ground, that will help in the negotiations that lead to peace," he said.
"In fact, the moratorium that`s been in place I think has been conducive to us rebuilding trust on all sides. And as a consequence, I`m more optimistic about the ability to get
into direct talks," he said.

The Palestinians demand that Israel freeze settlement construction before direct talks can be resumed.

Bureau Report

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