President calls on Arab states to back words with deeds
UNITED NATIONS – Raising the stakes further in his high-risk drive to make Middle East peace, President Barack Obama on Thursday called on Arab states and others to do much more to support the peace talks and the fragile Palestinian leadership.
Using his annual U.N. General Assembly address to push an initiative that many in the Middle East think is doomed to failure, Obama diplomatically berated Arab leaders who have long demanded a stronger U.S. role in establishing a Palestinian state.
“Many in this hall count themselves as friends of the Palestinians. But these pledges must now be supported by deeds. Those who have signed on to the Arab Peace Initiative should seize this opportunity to make it real by taking tangible steps toward the normalization that it promises Israel,” Obama said, referring to a 2002 peace offer.
Obama’s remarks reflected frustration that Saudi Arabia and other Arab states besides Egypt and Jordan, which have made peace with Israel, have been cool to his efforts and have lagged in providing promised funds to the Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas.
Obama took to the podium three days before Israel’s moratorium on new Jewish settlements in the West Bank is due to expire. The Palestinians have said they’ll bolt the talks if construction resumes, and it’s unclear whether a compromise can be found.