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Obama: Don't let skeptics, fear derail Mideast peace

By Kamal Wallace, CNN
President Obama says he wants to see Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.
President Obama says he wants to see Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • President Obama says Israelis, Palestinians will miss out on opportunities without peace accord
  • Obama says other countries have responsibility to help with peace process
  • Tensions mount over possibility of new Israeli settlements in West Bank

(CNN) -- President Obama says critics and skeptics to Mideast peace between Israelis and Palestinians should "consider the alternative," according to excerpts released in advance of his United Nations speech planned for Thursday.

"If an agreement is not reached, Palestinians will never know the pride and dignity that comes with their own state. Israelis will never know the certainty and security that comes with sovereign and stable neighbors who are committed to co-existence," he said. "The hard realities of demography will take hold. More blood will be shed.

"This Holy Land will remain a symbol of our differences, instead of our common humanity," he said.

According to his prepared text, Obama said although peace must be made by Israelis and Palestinians, other countries have a responsibility as well.

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"Those of us who are friends of Israel must understand that true security for the Jewish state requires an independent Palestine -- one that allows the Palestinians people to live with dignity and opportunity," Obama said. "And those of us who are friends of the Palestinians must understand that the rights of the Palestinian people will be won only through peaceful means -- including genuine reconciliation with a secure Israel."

Since being elected president, Obama has worked tirelessly to resolve the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Mideast peace envoy George Mitchell have worked to achieve peace talks aimed at resolving all core issues of the Mideast conflict within 12 months.

Tensions are growing over the issue of possible new Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under pressure from the Palestinians and the Obama administration to extend a 10-month moratorium on building Israeli settlements in the disputed West Bank territory. That moratorium is set to expire September 26.

Palestinians have said the construction would torpedo the talks, but Israel says some construction is likely.

Another roadblock to any peace deal is the Palestinian view that any two-state solution must include a handover of all the land Israel captured in the 1967 war, along with East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital.

While Netanyahu has expressed openness about a Palestinian state, he has expressed strong opposition to a Palestinian takeover of East Jerusalem.