Obama on Middle East Peace: ‘The Moment Is Now’


Despite a rumored coolness between them, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Barack Obama palled around at the Zwinger Palace in Dresden this morning. “It is a great pleasure to be with my friend once again, who I always seek out for intelligent analysis and straight talk,” Obama said. (When asked about their relationship, which is viewed in Europe to be much less tight than the one between Obama and flashy French president Nicolas Sarkozy, Obama quipped to a reporter: “We have more than enough problems out there without manufacturing problems.”) Speaking on his recent trip to the Middle East, the American president emphasized his hopes for peace:

“The moment is now for us to act on what we all know to be the truth, which is that each side is going to have to make some difficult compromises. We have to reject violence.”

The Palestinians have to get serious about creating a security environment that is required for Israel to feel confident. Israelis are going to have to take some difficult steps.

“Ultimately, the United States can’t force peace upon the parties,” Obama said. “But what we’ve tried to do is to clear away some of the misunderstandings so we can at least begin to have frank dialogue.” He predicted that significant movement toward peace could occur in the next year. As Mike Allen of Politico quipped: “That’s one way to make health-care reform look like a snap.”

Merkel Backs Obama on Push for Accord in Middle East [NYT]