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White House: Obama to push peace process

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White House: Obama to push peace process, regardless of Israel leader By Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz Correspondent, and Reuters Tags: Foreign policy, U.S., Obama United States President Barack Obama intends to work toward Middle East peace regardless of who forms Israel’s new government, the White House said Wednesday, following Tuesday’s elections. „President Obama looks forward to working with whoever makes up that next Israeli government in a search for lasting and durable peace in the region,“ White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said. Obama telephoned President Shimon Peres to congratulate Israel for its successful elections and praised him for his steadfast support for a two-state solution with the Palestinians, the White House said. Advertisement Gibbs added that while the Israeli elections signal a strong democracy, it is unclear what the results will mean for peace in the Mideast until a new prime minister is named. A few thousand soldiers‘ votes remained uncounted following Tuesday’s general Israeli elections, leaving the final tally uncertain. After 99% of the votes were tallied, the centrist Kadima party emerged in the lead, but only barely, with one Knesset seat more than the right-wing Likud Party, which won 27 out of 120 Knesset seats. Though Kadima won more seats, the right-wing bloc gained a substantial majority of the seats, leaving Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu in a better position than Kadima leader Tzipi Livni to recruit a 61-majority needed to form a stable coalition. The results of Israel’s elections have been confusing for American officials, but the basic assessment is that regardless of who becomes the next prime minister, the shift to the right is clear, and there are no breakthroughs expected with the peace process. In fact, Iran, a Hamas sponsor, is considered to be a more promising track. Gibbs stressed, however, that Obama remains committed to working with Israel and its new government. Earlier Wednesday, Obama spoke to President Shimon Peres and congratulated him on the election process. „This afternoon, President Obama spoke to President Peres of Israel to extend his congratulations to the Israeli people on their general elections yesterday,“ a statement from the office of the U.S. president said. „The President remarked that the Israeli people should be very happy about the democratic example they have set for the world. They had a good discussion, and the President complimented President Peres on his recent op-ed in which he reaffirmed his strong commitment to achieving a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.“ Also on Wednesday, U.S. State Department spokesman Robert Wood told reporters that the U.S. was looking forward to working with whatever new government is formed in Israel. At a Washington press conference, Wood said that the Obama administration will not speculate on what kind of government will be formed. Wood called Israel a thriving democracy and said the administration intends to pursue a robust agenda once the new Israeli leadership is established. „The government needs to be formed. We will hold discussions with the government once it’s in place. The important thing is we’re looking forward to working with whoever heads it. It’s up to the Israeli people, not the Israeli government, who will be in it,“ he said. Referring to the possible inclusion of anti-Arab right wing Yisrael Beiteinu in the future coalition, Wood said „It’s not for the U.S. to make this kind of characterization, it’s the choice the Israeli people made. We have a robust agenda with Israeli government.“ „We’ve been working over the years with governments in Israel on trying to bring about – trying to affect the peace process. And that’s still going to be our goal,“ Wood went on to say. Addressing the two-state solution backed by the U.S. in Middle East peace talks, the State Department spokesman said „certainly that’s what we have been pursuing. And, you know, again, let’s let a government be formed.“ „We certainly hope that a new government will continue to pursue a path to peace,“ Wood said. However, Wood said that the U.S. special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, still intends to travel to Israel and elsewhere in the region in the near future. It will be his second visit to the region this month. Related articles: # Livni: I’ll fight on despite poor odds # Election results allow leaders to focus on bringing Shalit home # Yet-uncounted soldiers‘ votes expected to create Kadima-Likud tie


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Written by medienwatch & metainfo

Februar 13, 2009 at 00:03