Obama urges world to take risks for Mideast peace

Obama urges world to take risks for Mideast peace

UNITED NATIONS - President Barack Obama on Tuesday urged the global community to cast aside old prejudices and take the risks needed to help reach a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

Two years after Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas made a powerful plea to the UN General Assembly to grant his people statehood, Mr Obama said the United States remained "determined to resolve a conflict that goes back even further than our differences with Iran."

"The time is now ripe for the entire international community to get behind the pursuit of peace," he told this year's UN summit in New York.

"Already, Israeli and Palestinian leaders have demonstrated a willingness to take significant political risks."

The Middle East peace process was relaunched in July after almost three years of stalemate, after US Secretary of State John Kerry spent months doggedly shuttling back and forth to coax the two sides back to the negotiating table.

With the guidance of newly appointed US special envoy Martin Indyk, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have been meeting in private to hammer out some of the thorniest issues standing in the way of a deal to create two states, living side-by-side.

In September 2011, Mr Abbas handed over a formal request for statehood to UN chief Ban Ki Moon, and triggered wild applause as he addressed the General Assembly, vowing that the Palestinians were ready to return to peace talks if Israeli settlement activities cease.

But that move was immediately rejected by Israel and the United States.

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