The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
April 25, 2014
Press Conference with President Obama and President Park of the Republic of Korea
Seoul, Republic of Korea
6:15 P.M. KST
Q Mr. President, … at a time when your attention is needed on Ukraine and other world crises, is it now time to throw in the towel on the Middle East peace effort, especially now that Israel has dropped out of the talks?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: …
As far as the Middle East is concerned, this is a problem that’s been going on for 60, 70, 80 years. We didn’t anticipate that we were going to solve it during the course of a six or nine-month negotiation. I think it’s fair to say that one of my jobs as President is to worry about a bunch of different problems at the same time and not just pick and choose which problems that I have the luxury to worry about.
It is still in America’s interest as well as Israel’s interest and the interest of the Palestinian people to see if we can resolve a conflict that is combustible. And so far, at least, what we’ve seen is some movement on both sides to acknowledge that this is a crisis long running that needs to be solved. What we haven’t seen is, frankly, the kind of political will to actually make tough decisions. And that’s been true on both sides.
And the fact that most recently President Abbas took the unhelpful step of rejoining talks with Hamas is just one of a series of choices that both the Israelis and the Palestinians have made that are not conducive to trying to resolve this crisis. And I make no apologies for supporting Secretary of State Kerry’s efforts — tireless efforts — despite long odds, to keep on trying to bring the parties together.
There may come a point at which there just needs to be a pause and both sides need to look at the alternatives. As I’ve said in the past and I will continue to repeat: Nobody has offered me a serious scenario in which peace is not made between Israelis and Palestinians and we have a secure, democratic Jewish state of Israel and the Palestinians have a state. Folks can posture; folks can cling to maximalist positions; but realistically, there’s one door, and that is the two parties getting together and making some very difficult political compromises in order to secure the future of both Israelis and Palestinians for future generations.
We have not yet seen them walk through that door. We will continue to encourage them to walk through that door. Do I expect that they will walk through that door next week, next month, or even in the course of the next six months? No. Are we going to continue to try to offer constructive approaches that could lead them to go ahead and take those steps? Absolutely. And I make no apologies for that. It’s the right thing to do. It’s important and it’s in America’s national interest as well as the interests of the region and the interest of Israel.
7:14 P.M. KST