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Obama Hints Israeli Nationalists Hinder Peace

US President Barack Obama in town hall meeting: Netanyahu would like to go further than his coalition will let him.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 1/28/2010, 11:28 PM / Last Update: 1/28/2010, 11:25 PM

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Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's coalition partners are preventing him from going as far as he would like to in peace talks with the Palestinian Authority, US President Barack Obama said Thursday.

Obama was speaking at a town hall meeting in Tampa, Florida. Answering a question on the subject, he explained to the audience that the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority are both being held back by more extremist elements in their nations.

He said that he believes PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas truly wants peace but needs to deal with Hamas, which does not recognize Israel and believes in the use of violence. Obama said that the US is currently making an effort to reinforce both sides of the process, so that they can resume peace talks.

He declined under questioning to condemn Israel for actions against the Palestinians. He said Israel is a strong U.S. ally and that he will “never waver from helping Israel keep its people safe” in the hostile Middle East.

Obama said the situation facing the Palestinian people is one that needs attention, too.