Obama: Use flotilla fallout to push peace


NEW YORK (JTA) — President Obama reiterated his call for an investigation into the flotilla confrontation and urged parties in the Middle East to transform the situation into a chance to advance the peace process.

In a June 3 interview with Larry King on CNN, Obama called the loss of life on the boat “unnecessary” and predicted that the Israelis would agree to an “investigation of international standards” because they recognize that the current situation “can’t be good for Israel’s long-term security.”

Obama said that Israel has “legitimate security concerns when they’ve got missiles raining down on cities along the Israel-Gaza border.” At the same time, he added, “you’ve got a blockage up that is preventing people in Palestinian Gaza from having job opportunities and being able to create businesses and engage in trade and have opportunity for the future.”

The president said, “I think what’s important right now is that we break out of the current impasse, use this tragedy as an opportunity so that we figure out, how can we meet Israel’s security concerns, but at the same time start opening up opportunity for Palestinians, work with all parties concerned — the Palestinian Authority, the Israelis, the Egyptians and others — and I think Turkey can have a positive voice in this whole process once we’ve worked through this tragedy. And bring everybody together to figure out how can we get a two-state solution where the Palestinians and Israelis can live side by side in peace and security.

Obama said that “we need to know what all the facts” are before assigning blame for the confrontation.

“But it’s not premature to say to the Israelis and to say to the Palestinians, and to say to all the parties in the region that the status quo is unsustainable,” he said. “We have been trying to do this piecemeal for decades now. It just doesn’t work. You’ve got to have a situation in which the Palestinians have real opportunity and Israel’s neighbors recognize Israel’s legitimate security concerns and are committed to peace.” 

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