President Obama today defended the United States’ alliance with Israel, refusing to condemn the country’s actions against Palestinians when prompted by a question at a town hall meeting in Tampa, Fla.
A young woman asked the president why, after speaking about the importance of human rights in his State of the Union address, the United States continues to send billions in tax dollars to Israel. Her question was met with a chorus of boos from the audience.
Mr. Obama responded by saying that he would talk about the “Middle East generally.”
“Israel is one of our strongest allies,” Mr. Obama said “It is a vibrant democracy. It shares links with us in all sorts of ways. It is critical for us and I will never waver from ensuring Israel’s security and helping them secure themselves in what is a very hostile region… So I make no apologies for that.”
He added that the United States’ relationship to Israel and the Palestinian territories was a matter of security.
“It is not good for our security, and it is not good for Israel’s security if you’ve got millions of individuals who feel hopeless, who don’t have an opportunity to get an education or get a job or what have you,” he said.
Both sides are going to have to make compromises to resolve the conflict, he said.
“As a first step, the Palestinians have to unequivocally renounce violence and recognize Israel,” Mr. Obama said. “And Israel has to acknowledge legitimate grievances and interests of the Palestinians.”