On Tuesday, during a trip to Indonesia, U.S. President Barack Obama told reporters that Israeli plans to build new settler homes in occupied east Jerusalem are not helpful for the Middle East peace process.Speaking to reporters during a joint news conference with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Obama criticized Israel for its decision to build 1,300 more homes in east Jerusalem and declared that ‘each of these incremental steps can end up breaking’ the trust between the parties.
‘I’m concerned that we’re not seeing each side make the extra effort to get a breakthrough that could finally create a framework for a secure Israel living side-by-side in peace with a sovereign Palestine,’ he added.
Obama accepted that peace process was at a delicate moment but he also claimed that it is a priority in his administration’s agenda.
This is the first time in more than a month that Obama directly refers to the Middle East peace process. He said that he decided to talk to show his compromise to keep on working despite the deepening impasse.
‘We’re going to keep on working it though because it is in the world’s interests. It is in the interests of the people of Israel and it is in the interests of the Palestinian people to achieve that settlement,’ he concluded.
Direct Palestinian-Israeli talks were resumed in early September but were soon obstructed after Israel’s moratorium on settlement activities expired nearly six weeks ago.
Indonesia, where Obama lived when he was young, is the second country that the U.S. President is visiting on a 10-day Asian tour and he is making outreach to the Muslim world a major theme of his brief visit to Indonesia.