President Barack Obama told Jewish leaders on Monday that eight
years of joint efforts to find credible solutions to Palestinian
problems had produced no results and urged them to give him time to
try his tactics for Middle East peace.
Obama assured 16 Jewish leaders that the United States remained
steadfast in its commitment to Israel's security.
During an hour-long private White House meeting, however, he told
guests that he was asking the Israelis and the Palestinians alike to
take concrete steps toward restarting peace talks.
"I think people were very direct with the president in expressing
their views. ... I think the president was very candid in
responding," said Alan Solow, the chairman of the Conference of
Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations.
Participants shared their worries that Obama's public request for
Israel to follow through on its pledges to stop colonies went too
far. Obama replied that he was telling his Israeli friends in public
the same things he has said during private meetings, according to
those in the Roosevelt Room on Monday.
"I think I share some of the same anxiety that others might have
shared. But I'm prepared to give this new president an opportunity -
not just prepared, but I support him taking a slightly different
approach than we're used to," said Rabbi Steven Wernick, executive
vice-president and CEO of the United Synagogue of Conservative
"No one could leave that meeting with any doubt about Obama's
commitment to Israel," said Ira Forman, executive director of the
National Jewish Democratic Council.