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Barack Obama tells Israel it 'cannot permanently occupy and settle Palestinian land’

'We all have to do better as leaders in tamping down, rather than encouraging, a notion of identity that leads us to diminish others'

Samuel Osborne
Wednesday 21 September 2016 08:37 BST
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President Obama addresses Palestine in UN speech

Barack Obama has told Israel it cannot permanently occupy and settle on Palestinian land in a speech to the United Nations.

The US president said both sides would benefit if Israel recognised it cannot permanently occupy the land and if Palestinians rejected incitement and recognised Israel's legitimacy.

“Surely Israelis and Palestinians will be better off if Palestinians reject incitement and recognize the legitimacy of Israel," he said on Tuesday.

"But Israel must recognise that it cannot permanently occupy and settle Palestinian land."

He added: "We all have to do better as leaders in tamping down, rather than encouraging, a notion of identity that leads us to diminish others."

Following his speech, the president will raise concerns about Israeli settlement activity in Arab lands during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York on Wednesday.

White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said that the United States has discussed its concerns about Israeli settlements and "the potential viability of a Palestinian state in the face of that settlement activity".

"I'm sure President Obama will do so tomorrow [Wednesday] as well," he added.

Israeli army escorts Palestinian children to school

Mr Obama's efforts to bring about an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement have failed over the nearly eight years he has been in the White House, with the latest push by US Secretary of State John Kerry collapsing in 2014.

US officials have held out the possibility Mr Obama could lay out the rough outlines of a deal - "parameters" in diplomatic parlance - after the 8 November presidential election and before he leaves office in January, but many analysts doubt this would have much effect.

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