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Obama Orders Israel to 'End the Occupation'

U.S. President Obama addresses the UN, says Israeli settlement illegitimate, calls on world to work together against poverty, climate change.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 9/23/2009, 7:03 PM

Flash 90

United States President Barack Obama issued a stinging condemnation of the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria on Wednesday in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly. The U.S. “does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements,” Obama announced.

Using unusually harsh terminology, Obama called to "end the occupation that began in 1967" - referring to Israel's control of Judea and Samaria.

Obama also stated that the U.S. must put more pressure on Israel to accept Arab demands. “The United States does Israel no favors when we fail to couple an unwavering commitment to its security with an insistence that Israel respect the legitimate claims and rights of the Palestinians,” he said.

The U.S. president had demands for Israel's opponents as well, and called on UN member states to avoid “vitriolic” attacks on Israel and recognize Israel's legitimacy. In addition, he called on the Palestinian Authority to “end incitement against Israel.”

In his speech, Obama reported that progress had been made in a meeting the day before with  Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Obama has pressured Israel to completely freeze building for Jews in Judea and Samaria, a plan Netanyahu has rejected. Israeli leaders have stated that many Judea and Samaria communities are within the “national consensus” regarding towns that are expected to remain in Israeli hands permanently, and that building should continue in those areas. The Obama administration's most recent statements on the subject made clear, however, that a freeze on settlements could not be a precondition for peace talks between Israel and the PA.

Regarding Iran, Obama expressed support for both diplomacy and consequences. Iran and North Korea should be offered “greater prosperity and a more secure peace” if they agree to abide by international guidelines, but “must be held accountable” if they insist on pursuing nuclear weapons, he said.

Bolton: Israel on the Chopping Block
Former United States ambassador to the UN John Bolton said the president's message had strong significance, particularly given the venue. Obama has put Israel “on the chopping block,” Bolton warned.

'World Must Work Together'
Obama called for the nations of the world to work together, saying, “Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility.”

"Those who used to chastise America for acting alone in the world cannot now stand by and wait for America to solve the world's problems alone,” he added pointedly.

Obama said UN member states had fallen short in addressing the world's problems. Among the issues he called to address were genocide, “protracted conflicts,” nuclear proliferation, and global warming.