Obama Pursues Mideast Peace 'Actively'

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CBNNews.com - WASHINGTON, D.C. - President Barack Obama's promise "to actively and aggressively" pursue a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict came as no surprise to many Israelis.

In one of his first press conferences at the U.S. State Department, Obama said "[It] will be the policy of my administration to actively and aggressively seek a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as Israel and its Arab neighbors."

"Hamas must end its rocket fire. Israel will complete the withdrawal of its forces from Gaza," the newly elected president said.

"The United States and our partners will support a credible anti-smuggling and interdiction regime so Hamas cannot rearm," he said.

As expected, Obama named former Democratic Senator George Mitchell as US Middle East envoy, tasking him first with ensuring that the Gaza cease-fire lasts.

"He will be fully empowered at the negotiating table and he will sustain our focus on the goal of peace," Obama said.

Some analysts see Obama's plan to dispatch Mitchell to the region prior to Israel's national elections as an attempt to reinforce Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's bid for the premiership.

Meanwhile, Hamas spokesman Osama Hamdan, who lives in Beirut, told al-Jazeera television that Obama is doomed to failure if he doesn't change his position.

"Obama insists that no change will happen. He is trying to move along the same path that previous US presidents have followed," Hamdan said.

"It seems that Obama is trying to repeat the same mistakes that George Bush made, without taking into consideration Bush's experience, which resulted in the explosion of the region instead of reaching stability and peace in it," he said.

"I think this is an unfortunate start for President Obama in the region and the Middle East issue," he said.

"And it looks like the next four years, if it continues with the same tone, will be a total failure," Hamdan said.

"Some were optimistic when Mitchell was nominated as a Middle East envoy, but it looks like even before Obama appointed him officially, he tried to put a spoke in the wheel, maybe so that he [Mitchell] doesn't succeed," the Hamas spokesman concluded.

Sources: The Jerusalem Post, YNet news

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