President Obama argued in a new op-ed that peace between the Israelis and Palestinians remained possible, even as anger over a series of murders threatened to plunge the warring factions into deeper violence.
"As I said last year in Jerusalem, peace is necessary, just, and possible. I believed it then. I believe it now. Peace is necessary because it’s the only way to ensure a secure and democratic future for the Jewish state of Israel," Obama wrote in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
"Reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians would also help turn the tide of international sentiment and sideline violent extremists, further bolstering Israel’s security."
The Israeli army announced it planned to carry out airstrikes on Tuesday in the Gaza Strip in response to intensified rocket attacks from Hamas, which controls the area.
Over the weekend, the Israeli government arrested six Jewish suspects in the killing of a Palestinian teen. The murder is thought to be a revenge killing, motivated by the kidnapping and death of three Israeli teens.
The President Obama said, “as a father” he mourned the loss of children on both sides of the conflict.
“I cannot imagine the pain endured by the parents of Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach, who were tragically kidnapped and murdered in June,” Obama said. “I am also heartbroken by the senseless abduction and murder of Mohammed Hussein Abu Khdeir, whose life was stolen from him and his family.”
Obama made no mention of Tariq Abu Khdeir, a Palestinian-American who was allegedly detained and beaten by Israeli police. The State Department has called the reports troubling.
Obama said he was disappointed by "setbacks and moments of frustration" in ongoing peace negotiations between the two sides but said the U.S. remained committed to a negotiated solution.
“It will take political will to make the difficult choices that are necessary and support from the Israeli and Palestinian people and civil society," he wrote.
"Both parties must be willing to take risks for peace. But at the end of the day, we know where negotiations must lead—two states for two peoples. Refusing to compromise or cooperate with one another won’t do anything to increase security for either the Israeli or the Palestinian people."