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      Obama: Pressure on Israel to Continue

      Pres. Obama assured Jewish American leaders of his commitment to Israel, but also insisted he would continue to publicly pressure the Jewish state.
      By Nissan Ratzlav-Katz
      First Publish: 7/14/2009, 4:05 PM

      (file)
      U.S. President Barack Obama assured 15 leaders of Jewish American organizations of his commitment to Israel, but he also insisted he would continue to publicly press the Jewish State to conform to his vision of Middle East peace.

      Hosting the Jewish delegates in the White House on Monday, Obama said that Israel needs "to engage in serious self-reflection" if it is to succeed in reaching a resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The American president repeatedly made it clear that in his view this can only mean the creation of an Arab state within Israel's current borders. He presented the "two-state solution" as a solution he wishes to promote to deal with Israel's purportedly precarious demographic situation.

      President Obama also said that he will continue to press his administration's demands on Israel urgently and publicly, regardless of opposition from the Netanyahu government. Keeping American disputes with Israel from the public eye, as he claimed was done in the past, has not served the interests of peace, Obama informed his guests. He likened this decision to the open and honest conversation needed among close friends.

      At the same time, Obama stated, his administration would not adopt a foreign policy inimical to Israel's security needs. Some of those present suggested that a visit by President Obama to Israel would go a long way to assuring the Israeli people of that commitment. Obama expressed approval of the idea.

      Regarding Iran, the U.S. leader said that he remains in favor of dialogue. If the Iranians reject that approach, he added, "we will have to see how we proceed. But it would be a mistake to talk now about what we're going to do and how we're going to do it."

      The hour-long meeting included the heads of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, AIPAC, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, the National Council of Jewish Women, the UJC, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Hadassah, the Orthodox Union, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the Union for Reform Judaism, the National Jewish Democratic Council, Americans for Peace Now, and the far-left J Street lobby. The president excluded from the meeting the strongly pro-Land of Israel National Council of Young Israel, a synagogue federation, and the Zionist Organization of America.