NEW YORK (CBS 2) – President Barack Obama is condemning fresh violence by the Palestinian terror group Hamas as a new round of peace talks gets underway in Washington.
The ambush and murder of a pregnant woman and three other Israeli settlers by Hamas Tuesday will not ambush the new Mideast peace talks. That was the vow made by President Obama on Wednesday, reports CBS 2′s Marcia Kramer.
“The message should go out to Hamas, and everybody else who is taking credit for these heinous crimes, that this is not going to stop us from not only ensuring a secure Israel, but also securing a longer-lasting peace,” Obama said.
The president made the remarks as he stood next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who learned of the bloodbath while flying to Washington.
To Obama’s great relief, Netanyahu decided not to let the attack interfere with the peace process, but it was clear the Israeli leader was furious.
“Four innocent people were gunned down, and seven new orphans were added by people who have no respect for human life, and trample human rights into the dust, and butcher everything they oppose,” Netanyahu said.
In New York, a key Jewish group approached the peace talks by putting up a Times Square billboard reminding negotiators that Palestinians have been holding Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit hostage since 2006.
“This is his fifth new year, Rosh Hashanah, in captivity,” Malcolm Hoenlein, of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said. “One can only imagine what he has been subjected to in the hands of these Hamas terrorists, seeing the brutal murder that they carried out this week.”
On the Palestinian side, there is a certain lack of optimism that the president has enough political capital to force a two-state solution that respects the needs of their people.
“Every single administration has promised us peace, every single administration has promised us a Palestinian state, and it’s never come to fruition,” Zead Ramadan, a Palestinian and board president of the Council of American Islam Relations, said.
A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas predicted the talks would fail almost immediately unless Israel extends a moratorium on settlement construction that expires at the end of the month.