Obama to JTA: Both sides must follow pacts

Both Israelis and Palestinians must abide by previous agreements, Barack Obama told JTA in an exclusive interview.

“It is important if we’re going to make progress in Israeli-Palestinian talks that both sides are held accountable to previous agreements,” the Democratic presidential candidate said Wednesday. “I think that the failure to abide by previous agreements has occurred more consistently on the Palestinian side, particularly as it pertains to reining in violence.”

Obama, a U.S. senator from Illinois, was asked about the views of Daniel Kurtzer, the former ambassador to Israel who co-wrote a book on negotiating Arab-Israeli peace before joining the Obama team as an adviser. In the book, Kurtzer says Israel has not paid a price for failing to dismantle unauthorized outpost settlements, as it has promised in recent years.

“It’s going to be important for Israel to acknowledge that it’s going to have to make some territorial modifications to ensure that there is a stable and contiguous Palestinian state that can function, and ultimately that Palestinian children have opportunities to thrive like children anywhere else,” Obama said.

The role of the United States “requires listening to both sides and talking to both sides, requires that we don’t dismiss out of hand the concerns of the Palestinians,” Obama said. “Because there’s no way we can move forward in those negotiations without at least understanding their perspective.”

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