Before meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this morning at the UN, President Obama said that “the bonds between the United States and Israel are unbreakable.”
The president, who has publicly clashed with Netanyahu in the past, delivered a message at the UN today that contained little to rankle the conservative Israeli leader, given their mutual opposition to the Palestinian bid for statehood before any peace treaty has been worked out.
“Peace cannot be imposed on the parties,” the president said.
Netanyahu then spoke, saying “I want to thank you Mr. President for standing with Israel and supporting peace through direct negotiations. We both agree that this is the only way to achieve peace. We both agree that Palestinians and Israelis should sit down together and negotiate an agreement of mutual recognition and security. I think this is the only way to get a stable and endurable peace. But you’ve also made it clear that the Palestinians deserve a state but it’s a state that has to make that peace with Israel.”
“Standing your ground…is a badge of honor and I want to thank you for wearing that badge of honor,” Netanyahu said.
This was the president’s first bi-lat today — Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda of Japan is next. Close to 6 p.m. at the Waldorf, President Obama will meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
-Jake Tapper and Kirit Radia