President Barack Obama told Arab-American leaders that his trip to Israel and the Palestinian areas would demonstrate U.S. commitment to partnering with the Palestinian Authority to bring about a state.
“The President noted that the trip is not dedicated to resolving a specific policy issue, but is rather a chance to consult with Jordanian, Israeli, and Palestinian Authority officials about a broad range of issues,” a White House official said after Monday’s meeting with an array of Arab-American organizational leaders.
“He underscored that the trip is an opportunity for him to demonstrate the United States’ commitment to the Palestinian people – in the West Bank and Gaza – and to partnering with the Palestinian Authority as it continues building institutions that will be necessary to bring about a truly independent Palestinian state.”
The official also re-emphasized the Israel focus of the trip, as outlined last week in a similar meeting with Jewish organizational officials.
“He also noted that the trip is an opportunity for him to reiterate America’s commitment to Israel’s security, and to speak directly to the Israeli people about the history, interests, and values that we share,” said the official.
Ziad Asali, the president of the American Task Force for Palestine, told JTA that the White House meeting lasted about an hour, and that much of it was in the form of questions and answers. He said there were about a dozen participants.
Asali said he stressed in the meeting the importance of renewing Israeli-Palestinian talks. “Over the last period there has been a lot of deterioration, and the tide has to be stemmed,” Asali said.
James Zogby, the Arab American Institute president, said he noted that Obama would address Israelis and would not have the opportunity to deliver a similar speech to Palestinians, but counseled means of sending a direct message to the Palestinians.
“There are ways to speak to the people directly,” Zogby told JTA. “There are things to say to the people to help restore the sense of confidence they have in the future.”