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Obama tells Israelis settlement activity hurts peace prospects

Reuters

March 21, 2013 | 8:01 am

U.S. President Barack Obama (left) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas leave the stage after a joint news conference at the Muqata Presidential Compound in Ramallah on March 21. Photo by REUTERS/Jason Reed

U.S. President Barack Obama (left) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas leave the stage after a joint news conference at the Muqata Presidential Compound in Ramallah on March 21. Photo by REUTERS/Jason Reed

In a keynote speech to Israeli students, U.S. President Barack Obama said on Thursday that continued settlement activity was "counterproductive" to peace, adding that the Palestinians had a right to self-determination.

But he also insisted that now was the time for the Arab world to start normalizing relations with the Jewish state.

"Israelis must recognize that continued settlement activity is counterproductive to the cause of peace, and that an independent Palestine must be viable, that real borders will have to be drawn," Obama said in a nationally televised speech.

Obama, coupling his push for a more conciliatory Israeli approach to the Palestinians with a reaffirmation of his commitment to Israel's security, also promised that Washington will "do what me must to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran". (Reporting by Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Crispian Balmer)

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