For the entire transcript, go here. Obama answers this question from a reporter:
Thank you, Mr. President. Yesterday in his speech before Congress, the Israeli Prime Minister referred to the Palestinian right of return as “fantasy.” And I wonder if that’s a sentiment you agree with in any way. And also, if you could outline for us a little bit how you -- your views on that issue, as well the future of Jerusalem.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: My goal, as I set out in the speech I gave last week, is a Jewish state of Israel that is safe and secure and recognized by its neighbors, and a sovereign state of Palestine in which the Palestinian people are able to determine their own fate and their own future. I am confident that can be achieved. It is going to require wrenching compromise by both sides.Obama on Hamas:
Over the last decade, when negotiators have talked about how to achieve that outcome, there have been typically four issues that have been raised. One is the issue of what would the territorial boundaries of a new Palestinian state look like? Number two, how could Israel feel confident that its security needs were being met? Number three, how would the issue of Palestinian refugees be resolved? And number four, the issue of Jerusalem.
The last two questions are extraordinarily emotional. They go deep into how both the Palestinians and the Jewish people think about their own identities. Ultimately they are going to be resolved by the two parties. I believe that those two issues can be resolved if there is the prospect and the promise that we can actually get to a Palestinian state and a secure Jewish state of Israel.
And what my speech did was to say, let’s begin the work with the very hard-nosed but transparent and less -- perhaps less emotional issues of what would the territorial boundaries look like and what would Israeli security requirements entail.
And I believe that if the Palestinians and the Israelis begin talking about those two issues and get some resolution, they can start seeing on the horizon the possibility of a peace deal, they will then be in a position to have a -- what would be a very difficult conversation about refugees and about Jerusalem.
That’s not something that any party from the outside is going to be able to impose on them. But what I am absolutely certain of is that if they’re not talking, we’re not going to make any progress, and neither the Israeli people or the Palestinian people will be well served.
Let me just make one more comment about the prospects for a serious peace negotiation. The Israelis are properly concerned about the agreement that’s been made between Fatah and Hamas. Hamas has not renounced violence. Hamas is an organization that has thus far rejected the recognition of Israel as a legitimate state. It is very difficult for Israelis to sit across the table and negotiate with a party that is denying your right to exist, and has not renounced the right to send missiles and rockets into your territory.
So, as much as it’s important for the United States, as Israel’s closest friend and partner, to remind them of the urgency of achieving peace, I don’t want the Palestinians to forget that they have obligations as well. And they are going to have to resolve in a credible way the meaning of this agreement between Fatah and Hamas if we’re going to have any prospect for peace moving forward.
As for the United Nations, I’ve already said -- I said in the speech last week and I will repeat -- the United Nations can achieve a lot of important work. What the United Nations is not going to be able to do is deliver a Palestinian state. The only way that we’re going to see a Palestinian state is if Israelis and Palestinians agree on a just peace.
And so I strongly believe that for the Palestinians to take the United Nations route rather than the path of sitting down and talking with the Israelis is a mistake; that it does not serve the interests of the Palestinian people, it will not achieve their stated goal of achieving a Palestinian state. And the United States will continue to make that argument both in the United Nations and in our various meetings around the world.
Q Do you agree with the comparison between Hamas and al Qaeda?Obama's arrival earlier today at 10 Downing Street where Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron discussed Libya and other topics:
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I believe that Hamas, in its own description of its agenda, has not renounced violence and has not recognized the state of Israel. And until they do, it is very difficult to expect Israelis to have a serious conversation, because ultimately they have to have confidence that a Palestinian state is one that is going to stick to its -- to whatever bargain is struck; that if they make territorial compromises, if they arrive at a peace deal, that, in fact, that will mean the safety and security of the Jewish people and of Israel. And Hamas has not shown any willingess to make the kinds of concessions that Fatah has, and it’s going to be very difficult for us to get a Palestinian partner on the other side of the table that is not observing the basic Quartet principles that we both believe -- that both David and I believe in -- the need to renounce violence, recognize the state of Israel, abide by previous agreements.
That is I think going to be a critical aspect of us being able to jumpstart this process once again.