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Obama aide: We won't press for peace at all costs

US president's chief economic advisor says during Independence Day event at Israeli Embassy that his country will only push Netanyahu for 'peace that defends innocent people, peace that guarantees freedom, peace that does not reward terror'

Yitzhak Benhorin
Published: 04.30.09, 08:42 / Israel News

WASHINGTON – The United States does not plan to pressure Israel for peace at all costs, US President Barack Obama has conveyed in a message to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel's citizens.

 

This message was relayed Wednesday night by Larry Summers, the American president's chief economic advisor, during an event marking the Jewish state's 61st Independence Day organized by the Israeli Embassy in Washington.

 

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Summers, who is Jewish and served as the Clinton administration's treasury secretary, said that all US presidents since Israel's establishment have been committed to the Jewish state's security and independence. He added that Obama would continue this presidential tradition with great pride.

 

The message passed on by Summers from the White House was that during Netanyahu's upcoming visit to Washington, the two leaders would discuss peace, which he said was what everyone wanted, but not peace at all costs.

 

"Peace that defends innocent people, peace that guarantees freedom, peace that does not reward terror, peace that the Middle East deserves after such a long time," he said.

 

President Shimon Peres will meet with Obama next week ahead of Netanyahu's visit.

 

After conveying the message, Summers was asked by Israeli reporters how would Netanyahu be greeted at the White House on May 18, and replied that the Israeli prime minister would receive a good reception.

 

He added that the Americans were looking forward to discussing a variety of issues with the Israeli leader, including economics and politics.

 

Compliments to Israeli economy

Summers went on to speak about his area of expertise, praising Israel's economic achievements. These were 61 extraordinary years, he said, stating that the Israelis' accomplishments were unique considering the fact that the Jewish state had experienced four wars during this period and was under a contact threat.

 

The US president's chief economic advisor noted that since its establishment and up until the end of the 20th century, Israel had increased its exports at a higher speed than any other country in the world, including Japan, China and South Korea.

 

Summers stressed that the Jewish state did this with hard work and commitment, with the greatest values of humanity, a commitment to do the right thing, a commitment to knowledge, a commitment to beauty and culture, and a commitment to the highest level of civilization, all this while facing a constant threat. This is what Israel gave the world, he said.

 

Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, who is expected to meet with kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit's father, promised during the event to make every effort to help release the captive.

 

The audience was moved when Pelosi pulled out the symbolic dog tags of fallen Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, which she received two years ago in a meeting with Goldwasser's widow, Karnit. The House speaker said she carried the tag dogs everywhere she goes and presents them to any foreign leader she meets, including Arab leaders.

 

Israeli Ambassador to the US Salai Meridor, who announced during the event that he would be leaving office next month, was praised by both Summers and Pelosi. Meridor spoke to Prime Minister Netanyahu last week and asked to return to Israel in May, even if the government failed to appoint a new ambassador by then.

 

The Israeli Embassy in Washington may be forced to conduct itself without an ambassador for a while, as the process of approving a new ambassador in Israel and then in the US may take up to six weeks.

 

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