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BLITZER’S BLOG: Obama avoids tough talk on Israeli-Palestinian conflict
September 21st, 2011
03:43 PM ET

BLITZER’S BLOG: Obama avoids tough talk on Israeli-Palestinian conflict

By CNN’s Wolf Blitzer

New York (CNN) - New York (CNN) – I listened closely to President Obama's United Nations General Assembly speech. He certainly touched on most of the major international issues, although often he offered diplomatic nuances on sensitive subjects.

On Iran's nuclear program: "The Iranian government cannot demonstrate that its program is peaceful, has not met its obligations, and rejected offers that would provide it with peaceful nuclear power."

On the brutal Syrian crackdown on peaceful demonstrators: "Now is the time for the United Nations Security Council to sanction the Syrian regime and to stand with the Syrian people."

The single biggest section of his half-hour address was on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "I am convinced that there is no shortcut to the end of a conflict that has endured for decades. Peace is hard work. Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the U.N.; if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now."

Where the president was blunt was when he underlined his strong support for Israel's security. He said it was "unshakeable," adding: "Our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring."

On this day, he did not repeat his controversial statement of May 19 when he said, “The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.”

This time he simply said this: "Ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians – not us – who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them: on borders and security, on refugees and Jerusalem."

Sometimes a president prefers more nuanced statements rather than blunt warnings and tough talk. This is one of those times.

RELATED STORY: Obama addresses U.N. General Assembly

soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Teredo

    The vast preponderance of American and Canadian citizens labor under the delusion, created by Leon Uris' book 'Exodus', and the film of the same name, that the state of Israel was attacked, at its founding, by massed Arab armies. Nothing could be further from the truth. 'The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine', by Ilan Pappe, should be required reading in American and Canadian schools. If that were to happen the power of the Zionist lobby in the US may become a little more limited, to the point at which the North Americans could stop sucking up to a rogue state, namely Israel. A state that, between 1948 and 1951 or 52, uprooted 700,000 to 800,000 Palestinians from their homes and farms and drove them from the country; and, in the process, obliterated over 500 villages, of which today nothing whatsoever remains.

    Of course this letter will be dismissed as Anti Semitic, as is anything that is deemed a criticism of the Zionist State of Israel. One only has to read the works Norman G. Finkelstein, many of whose family died in the Holocaust, to understand how that works. Professor Finkelstein is banned from visiting Israel and has been slighted academically in the US for airing his views. He was refused tenure at DePaul University in Chicago, despite being supported in his quest for tenure by both the student body and the faculty. I guess making a well-known Zionist attorney look bad in a televised debate didn’t help his cause. So much for the much-vaunted free speech in Israel, Canada and the United States.

    September 24, 2011 at 12:23 am |
  2. Shelly

    Why did the Republican canadiate allow the audience to Boo this service man last night.

    September 23, 2011 at 6:55 am |
  3. Gunny

    Why do we ays get involved with every problem in the world and think we can fix it. I support Israel 100% When the palistinians can learn to stop fighting and prove that to the world,then maybe Israel would work with them to come to some kind of peace. Its not our business to make political statements about Israel and palistine. Palistinians dont want to live in peace, they are happy shoting missiles and bombing Israel. As long as you have a race that believes in an eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth, you will never stop the fighting. Israel is great and I think they are protecting themseves and their people. Good for them, dont give in to the Palistinians.

    September 22, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  4. poorboy711

    Well all of them Obama bashers will soon have their way and you will be able to vote a republican back in to save us all.Then to he can walk away and write a great book about it:)

    September 22, 2011 at 8:56 am |
  5. poorboy711

    When will people stop pointing fingers and look at the big picture? Do you honestly think that Obama can force a resolution on people to end this conflict? Put your iPad down,turn off radio,turn off tv, put down cellphone and maybe your ADD self will understand that no one presidency term is going to fix all the problems in our country and around the world.

    September 22, 2011 at 8:46 am |
  6. obama 2012(theres no one else worth voting for)

    If I was obama I 'd say to ammas , declare that as a palistinian state would,work with israel to get rid of hamas if they would agree I would throw full sapport to them, israel is not in the right but how are they gonna give back land they died to conquer( wether its right or not) when hamas says no peace with israel and the jews should be wiped off the earth. If I was israeli I wouldn't sapport it either.

    September 22, 2011 at 6:57 am |
  7. noname

    What can I say to people of America who are in the riches country in the world with everyone struggling but the rich who pays less taxes that most ordinary people – go figure – I may not like Presiden Obama but he is the best President at this time – no one wanted the job when he took it over – May God bless America and may God protect, guide and Strengthen President Obama to complete a successful first term to prosper all Americans and a second term if he wants it.

    September 22, 2011 at 2:46 am |
  8. EdBenson

    The Israeli-Palistinian issue has been going on for so long most people are bored with it. Please, these people do need to work out their border and state issues for themselves. US Presidents have been patient and supporting for an agreement that never comes. If Israel and Palistine really want a resolution to the problem, they will work together to make one. Personally, I don't think their powers that be want a resolution. They've become addicted to the fight.

    September 22, 2011 at 1:35 am |
  9. renea

    All the haters just keep talking you may think this president is weak just dont undermind him. Im so glad he is the way he are he is being him not like people want him to be Thank GOD for that. Keep being you President Obama looking out for average Americans Keep the Faith dont give up.

    September 22, 2011 at 1:21 am |
  10. Frank Britt

    Isn't it very likely Obama's previous "tough talk" on this issue is partly the reason for the Palestinians making this move in the U.N. now?

    September 22, 2011 at 1:09 am |
  11. Blitza Bob

    When will this country realize, that the only reason we have problems in the middle east, is because we support Isreal. The muslims and jews have been fighting over that lousy temple mount for centuries. It's a small piece of land that is considered "holy" by three of the world's major religions. Currently the jews have it. We support the jews. The muslims see our support as a valid reason to commit jihad on us. Once we leave Isreal to fend for themselves, our wars in the middle east will end.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
  12. Randall

    I am so ready for Obama to take a clear stand on something, anything! The Israel/ Palestine Conflict would be a great start. At the end of the day, all this is, are current allies of the U.S. Being bullied into doing something they shouldn't have to. Regardless of Relegions, Israel has every right to defend what is theirs. How many times do we look the other way when clearly someone needs us to choose sides of an unfair fight? Aren't we currently having a big Campain to Stop the Bullying?

    September 21, 2011 at 9:51 pm |
  13. aswingruber

    Since 69 Israel has had no interest in reaching a resolution on this issue. Why would they? The longer "peace talks" continue the longer they can continue expanding unchecked into Gaza while the U.S. goes along with anything they say or do. After Obama called for no more new settlements in Gaza, which the rest of the world realizes is in violation of international law, Netanyahu scolded him and now with his tail between his legs he gives the world BS about bilateral peace talks which will only maintain the status quo of Israeli expansion. Way to contradict U.S. democratization efforts in the Middle East and fuel anti-American sentiment.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
  14. TONY

    Unlike Governor Perry, Mr. Obama apparently realizes that pissing off a billion Muslims world wide is not the answer to solving the current middle east problems. Both the Israelis and the Palestinians need to shore up their in-house divisions and get to negotiations that lead somewhere. Events will not wait as can be seen by Israel's problems with Egypt and Turkey.

    September 21, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
  15. D'Eric

    Wait so the U.N.should stay out of Israeli – Palestinian relations which is the biggest source of conflict possibly in the world and just worry about other issues? Using that flawed logic I guess the U.N should have let the Serbs and the ethnic groups they had issues with work it out since resolutions and statements at the U.N. Don't achieve peace.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
  16. W L Jones

    A great leader is also good follower other wise nothing will every get done. Bless.

    September 21, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
  17. radiodude

    The economy is struggling at best. The housing market is in the dumps. Unemployment is high. People need jobs that are not there. They are loosing their homes at an alarming rate. And President Obama is focusing on Peace in the Middle east. I am 42 and remember this same thing in 1980. Jimmy Carter is that you??? Is this hope and change?? I dont think so.

    September 21, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
    • bill

      dude. he is the president of the United States, it is part of this job to focus on foreign affairs. A peace treaty in the middle east is in the best interests of the US, economically and globally.

      September 22, 2011 at 2:27 am |
  18. Jan Kenney

    I had to laugh when you asked the Israeli PM if it was proper to come to the U.S. and get involved in our domestic affairs. It wasn't that long ago that Pres. Caulderon of Mexico spoke to a joint session of Congress and denounced Arizona for trying to uphold U.S. law. Let's try to be a little consistent.

    September 21, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  19. tom

    i am really disappointed with the u.s i must say much as admire them it is almost like the american people are oblivious that this palestinian issue is the root cause the hatred of the u.s in the middle east. i taught that both perties deserves peace and security and i wonder why u.s cannot talk to hamas an organisation that those not a a record of sucide bombing and wants to talk to the taliban it is just unfortunate. am sorry for obama because history will not judge him rigth. he really disappointed me bacause anytime he talks i listen and i used to love him so much too bad he lost my respect , he his not a man of his words as it is obvious in his in abiity to stand up to the rebublicans

    September 21, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
    • Semper Fidelis

      Bin Laden didn't organize 9/11 because of Israel. He hated America because they based their troops in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf Wart. And THAT was fought because Iraq invaded Kuwait.

      America and Britain went into Iraq because of non-existent Weapons of Mass Destruction. Nothing to do with Israel. They went into Afghanistan supposedly to "Get" Bin Laden. Nothing to do with Israel.

      Israel fight their OWN wars.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:27 pm |
  20. Jerry Slochevsky

    What does it say about the President that he didn't look straight into the camera, but, looked side to side throuthout his speech. To me that is the mark of someone telling lies.

    September 21, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • Semper Fidelis

      I'm glad you noticed that. He does it every single speech.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
    • David

      Jerry, It's because he addressing the entire UN ASSEMBLY, not the camera. It's not always all about you, ya' know.

      September 22, 2011 at 10:25 am |
  21. Paul S.


    In response to your interview the Palestinian official, please get yourself acclimated with the difference between Arabs and Persians (Iran). Just because they share a common religion (Islam); it does not mean they share the same ethnic lineage! There is a divergent dichotomy between Arabs and Persians (Iran) that addresses their potential “peace” relationship with Israel and not to be mistaken as one in the same.

    September 21, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  22. willard

    I'm belived that ppresdient obama are not very strongest also he is still weak for untied state of amercian
    Obama are keep out of his presdient alright

    September 21, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  23. lps

    I was glad the President didn't mention the borders.

    September 21, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  24. Katty

    If Obama had the ability to be honest with himself he would know that each day that goes by brings more and more dislike of what he stands for and what he is doing to this country. He didn't help himself with the speech to United Nations. He has earned the right to be defeated by anyone, whoever, whatever. He is destroying my life – what is left of it.

    September 21, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • haha...

      obama = jimmy carter 2

      September 22, 2011 at 10:42 am |

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