U.S. President Barack Obama refused Sunday to back away from his latest Mideast peace proposal, telling a pro-Israeli lobby audience the Jewish state will face growing isolation without a credible peace process.
In an address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's convention in Washington, D.C., Obama said the world "cannot afford to wait another decade, or another two decades, or another three decades, to achieve peace."
Obama said his call earlier this week for a future Palestinian state based on the 1967 demarcation lines with agreed land swaps was a public expression of what has long been acknowledged privately, and reflected the urgent need for a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians.
Obama said Sunday he brought the terms out in the open because delay will undermine Israel's security and peace prospects. The president repeated his remarks from Thursday on Israeli-Palestinian borders and security verbatim, while saying the United States' commitment to Israel's own security was "ironclad."
In his speech Thursday, Obama said the U.S. supports creation of a Palestinian state based on the lines that existed before the 1967 Six Day War in which Israel forces occupied east Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.
The comment drew angry criticism in Israel, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made clear after meeting with Obama on Friday in Washington that the idea of returning to "indefensible lines" was unacceptable.
In a statement Sunday following Obama's speech, Netanyahu said he was "determined" to work with Obama to renew the stalled peace talks.
"I am a partner to President Obama's wish to promote peace and I appreciate his efforts in the past and present to achieve this goal," the Israeli prime minister said.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government also suggested on Friday it was not backing the U.S. call for Israel to withdraw to the 1967 demarcation lines. Instead, government officials said that Ottawa supports a "negotiated solution involving both Israel and the Palestinian authority."