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Obama, Mubarak Discuss Mideast Peace

Updated 2:34 p.m.
By Anne E. Kornblut
Eager to help the Middle East "move away from a status quo" that he said is not working for either side, President Obama described his meetings with Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak on Tuesday as fruitful and expressed confidence that a breakthrough in the stalled peace process is on the horizon.

"There has been movement in the right direction," Obama said. "If all sides are willing to move off of the rut that we're in currently, then I think there is an extraordinary opportunity to make real progress. But we're not there yet."

Mubarak, in a joint press availability with Obama, conveyed his willingness to help jumpstart the process. "We are trying and working on this goal, to bring the two parties to sit together and to get something from the Israeli party and to get something from the Palestinian party. If we, perhaps, can get them to sit together, we will help," he said.

The meeting between Mubarak and Obama, their third in three months, marked a significant departure from the previous administration - when Mubarak and former President George W. Bush parted ways over human rights and U.S. policy in the Middle East. The events on Tuesday reaffirmed that the earlier chill has thawed. But it was unclear how much progress the two will make on their top priority: reviving the Middle East peace process.

Obama has sought to persuade Arab nations to make concessions to Israel to move the process forward, with little success. Mubarak, in an interview published Monday, said it is up to Israel to take the next step. And he said he told Obama in June, at the time of his Cairo address to the Muslim world, that Israel must stop the expansion of its settlements.

"Some Arab countries that exchanged representatives and trade offices might think of reopening these offices if Israel committed itself to stop settlement expansion and to resume final status peace negotiations," Mubarak said in an interview with the state-controlled newspaper. Egypt is one of two Arab countries that have peace agreements with Israel; the other is Jordan.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, asked how Obama planned to break the apparent deadlock on Middle East talks, said the president's intention all along has been to stay engaged in a consistent way. "If we look back at progress that has been made, it's generally been with the involvement of the United States," Gibbs said.

Mubarak, who met with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday, had a one-on-one session with Obama in the Oval Office, then an expanded session involving other participants, before a working lunch in the Cabinet Room.

Posted at 11:13 AM ET on Aug 18, 2009  | Category:  Foggy Bottom
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Obama always looks happiest when visiting abroad with authoritarian dictators, communists, or other like minded socialists.

Posted by: Obama_TRAITOR_in_Chief | August 18, 2009 8:18 PM

I am surprised by those who would excoriate Israel's actions in defending itself. They are out of touch with the facts. The Palestinians now in the second or third generation whose parents and grandparents voluntarily left Israel at its establishment are pawns of the extremists who want nothing else but to destroy the country. Since its founding, Israel has contributed greatly to world progress through its technolgy, inventions and medicine. It is surrounded by Arab countries that find it unfathomable to take in peoples of their own language and culture. These countries have vast regions of usable land upon which the Palestinians could settle. To covet the small piece of land about the twice the size of Rhode Island which has biblical connection for the Jewish people seems to me irrational and unwarranted. A 2 state solution conditioned on Arab recognition of Israel, which has been advanced, appears reasonable. Whatever you think of Israel it is a working democracy in the Middle East, a rarity in that region, and a good friend. Under Israeli sovereignty all peoples are free to visit the holy land, unlike the way it was under Arab control.

Posted by: surprisekid | August 18, 2009 6:07 PM

Good luck with that Mr.President.

Posted by: moebius22 | August 18, 2009 5:24 PM

Israel and Hamas should get together and solve their differences in a Christian manner. If this does not produce results they should go have a beer with Obama in the White House after he gets back from Martha's Vineyard, the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Park.

Posted by: Mindboggle | August 18, 2009 4:26 PM

In my view, Obama's "hard line" on the Jewish settlements on the West Bank is not "anti-Israeli" at all. It merely reflects realism that stopping these settlements is the only way Israel will ever achieve peace with its Arab neighbors. Rahm Emanuael understands this and for his forthrightness he is being pilloried as a "traitor to his heritage". Echoes of FDR!

Posted by: rabbit3 | August 18, 2009 4:06 PM


God it's so insulting to be thought dumb.

Israel doesn't want peace.

Israel wants Palestine.

Always has, always will. Took land now
amounting to 43%^ of the West Bank and savaged Gaza in the LAST EIGHT YEARS!

Peace talks should morph into war crimes trials for the genocide that has and will continue until someone stops it.

Posted by: kindfrazier | August 18, 2009 4:00 PM

Israel never wanted peace with the Palestinians. They just want to keep killing more and more Palestinians everday hoping that desperate Palestinians will eventually leave the country and take refuge somewhere else.This is not going to happen regardless of this ruthless and systematic genocide. Palestinians have stood against all European Invaders during the Crusades in the 12th. centry while the Zionist neo invaders were hiding in Europe making business and hoarding money. Throughout all their history,Palestinians never gave in to foreign invaders.The only solution for this chronic Dlemma is establishing one secular country on all the land of Historical Palestine for Jews,Moslems and Christians with equal rights and responsibilities and without any kind of descrimination.

Posted by: mass2 | August 18, 2009 3:50 PM

The striking irony is that the victims of the Jewish holocaust during the World War II are now the perpetrators of the the neo- holocaust against the innocent Palestinan people who had nothing to do with the original crime. Naturally this is happening with the full support of the US to the Jewish state at the expense of poor Palestinians for more than 60 years now. Israel is nothing but another South Afrcia.Palestinians,being moslems or Christians, are treated like subhumans. Their houses are being demolished,their children are being jailed or killed on daily basis,their little farms are being bulldozed.Any Jew from all over the world is entitled for Israeli citizenship upon his arrival at Ben Gorion Airport, while the orginal land owners are not permitted even to visit the houses they were kicked from in Israel.The whole world should be ashamed of tolerating such an apartheid regime to cintinue in the 21st century. Israel as a pure Jewish state should not be permitted to continue anymore. Israel does have the right to exist but within its legal borders under UN resolution 181 and as a secular state for all its citizens regardless of their religion.Palestinian refugees must be given the right to return to their stolen homes and belongings in Israel.The only solution for this chronic Dlemma is establishing one secular state on all the land of Historical Palestine for Jews,Moslems and Christians with equal rights and responsibilities and without any kind of descrimination.

Posted by: mass2 | August 18, 2009 3:43 PM

The confidence expressed at that meeting to resolve the Israeli palestinian conflict is a fallacy and both Obama and Mubarak know that.

Anybody of GOOD FAITH knows that different parties cannot come to an agreement If one of them does NOT recognise the other.

So before talking about settlements which is NOT the main issue, Obama must first ensure that all arab parties FIRST recognise Israel ONCE AND FOR ALL after 60 Years of Existence and lay down arms.

Posted by: TPdBLY2b | August 18, 2009 3:42 PM

Yeah, right. Dumbo is encouraged, just like he was encouraged about his nitwit porkulus plan would keep unemployment below eight percent.
This dimwit rookie will be played like a violin by the experienced world leaders. He's a real embarrassment, just like his lightweight Secretary of State bozo Hillary.

Posted by: LarryG62 | August 18, 2009 3:32 PM

As one of the participants in the recent Viva Palestina humanitarian mission to Gaza, I am outraged that the Egyptian-controlled Rafah border remains closed and the entire population of Gaza continues to suffer in the world's largest open air prison. In Cairo, Obama said the Palestinian situation is "intolerable" and Gaza is in a humanitarian crisis. That crisis has gotten worse and the situation more intolerable in the interim. Today he says we need to move from the "status quo". Action speaks louder than words, and, to date, there has been no change in US policy. The hypocrisy needs to end. The Rafah border crossing needs to open today and stay open permanently. Otherwise not only Israel and the USA, but Egypt will have the blood of many innocent people, those that are suffering and dying right now in Gaza, on its hands.

Posted by: Spiritof761 | August 18, 2009 2:45 PM

It is interesting that I was attempting to post a comment in the WASHINGTON TIMES (whom I also subscribe to) this morning on this very same topic: Obama Losing Jewish Backers, due to his middle-east policies; and, I usually have no difficulties in posting exactly what is on my mind (as I believe in my right to free speech) and not afraid of retaliation. However, after I posted my comment in the TIMES (NOT the POST), someone erased my post and the site refused to allow me to post anything else on the topic. I actually became fearful that the Obama Administration is pressuring rags like the TIMES to turn over e-mails that are unfavorable to his image (such as mine). Apparently they did not like what I had to say: that Obama's political decisions have been atrocious (alienating our allies while courting our enemies), and that his economic policies are proving disastrous: it is alsmost as if he is anti-semitic, and that he is intentionally attempting to weaken our nation at home and abroad. I hope the POST is not under the same pressure and has the courage to post my views. After all, this is America not Russia.

Posted by: BigBob1963 | August 18, 2009 12:54 PM

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