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Obama: ‘Israel cannot permanently occupy Palestinian land’

September 21, 2016 at 5:27 pm

US President Barack Obama is seen during the Leaders’ Summit at the United Nations headquarters in New York on September 20, 2016 [Bilgin S. Şaşmaz/Anadolu]

Israel cannot permanently occupy and settle on Palestinian land, US President Barack Obama said in a speech at the UN yesterday.

“Israel must recognise that 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,” he added.

Obama is due to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York today when he is expected to raise concerns about Israel’s illegal settlement activity on Arab lands.

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 Obama could lay out the rough outlines of a deal – “parameters” in diplomatic parlance – after the November 8 presidential election and before he leaves office in January, but many analysts doubt this would have much effect.

“Surely Israelis and Palestinians will be better off if Palestinians reject incitement and recognise the legitimacy of Israel …(and if) Israel recognises that it cannot permanently occupy and settle Palestinian land,” Obama said.