Remarks of President Barack Obama
Saturday, September 4, 2010
On Monday, we celebrate Labor Day. It’s a chance to get together with family and friends, to throw some food on the grill, and have a good time. But it’s also a day to honor the American worker – to reaffirm our commitment to the great American middle class that has, for generations, made our economy the envy of the world.
That is especially important now. I don’t have to tell you that this is a very tough time for our country. Millions of our neighbors have been swept up in the worst recession in our lifetimes. And long before this recession hit, the middle class had been taking some hard shots. Long before this recession, the values of hard work and responsibility that built this country had been given short shrift.
For a decade, middle class families felt the sting of stagnant incomes and declining economic security. Companies were rewarded with tax breaks for creating jobs overseas. Wall Street firms turned huge profits by taking, in some cases, reckless risks and cutting corners. All of this came at the expense of working Americans, who were fighting harder and harder just to stay afloat – often borrowing against inflated home values to pay their bills. Ultimately, the house of cards collapsed.
So this Labor Day, we should recommit ourselves to our time-honored values and to this fundamental truth: to heal our economy, we need more than a healthy stock market; we need bustling main streets and a growing, thriving middle class. That’s why I will keep working day-by-day to restore opportunity, economic security, and that basic American Dream for our families and future generations.
First, that means doing everything we can to accelerate job creation. The steps we have taken to date have stopped the bleeding: investments in roads and bridges and high-speed railroads that will lead to hundreds of thousands of jobs in the private sector; emergency steps to prevent the layoffs of hundreds of thousands of teachers and firefighters and police officers; and tax cuts and loans for small business owners who create most of the jobs in America. We also ended a tax loophole that encouraged companies to create jobs overseas. Instead, I’m fighting to pass a law to provide tax breaks to the folks who create jobs right here in America.
But strengthening our economy means more than that. We’re fighting to build an economy in which middle class families can afford to send their kids to college, buy a home, save for retirement, and achieve some measure of economic security when their working days are done. And over the last two years, that has meant taking on some powerful interests who had been dominating the agenda in Washington for far too long.
That’s why we’ve put an end to the wasteful subsidies to big banks that provide student loans. We’re going to use that money to make college more affordable for students instead.
That’s why we’re making it easier for workers to save for retirement, with new ways of saving their tax refunds and a simpler system for enrolling in retirement plans like 401(k)s. And we’re going to keep up the fight to protect Social Security for generations to come.
That’s why we stopped insurance companies from refusing to cover people with pre-existing conditions and dropping folks who become seriously ill.
And that’s why we cut taxes for 95 percent of working families, and passed a law to help make sure women earn equal pay for equal work in the United States of America.
This Labor Day, we are reminded that we didn’t become the most prosperous country in the world by rewarding greed and recklessness. We did it by rewarding hard work and responsibility. We did it by recognizing that we rise or we fall together as one nation – one people – all of us vested in one another. That is how we have succeeded in the past. And that is how we will not only rebuild this economy, but rebuild it stronger than ever before.
Thank you. And I hope you have a great Labor Day weekend.
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
ON MONTHLY UNEMPLOYMENT NUMBERS
10:16 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody. As we head into Labor Day weekend, I know many people across this country are concerned about what the future holds for themselves, for their families, and for the economy as a whole.
As I’ve said from the start, there’s no quick fix to the worst recession we’ve experienced since the Great Depression. The hard truth is that it took years to create our current economic problems, and it will take more time than any of us would like to repair the damage. Millions of our neighbors are living with that painfully every day.
But I want all Americans to remind themselves there are better days ahead. Even after this economic crisis, our markets remain the most dynamic in the world. Our workers are still the most productive. We remain the global leader in innovation, in discovery, in entrepreneurship.
Now, the month I took office, we were losing 750,000 jobs a month. This morning, new figures show the economy produced 67,000 private sector jobs in August -– the eighth consecutive month of private job growth. Additionally, the numbers for July were revised upward to 107,000.
Now, that’s positive news, and it reflects the steps we’ve already taken to break the back of this recession. But it’s not nearly good enough. That’s why we need to take further steps to create jobs and keep the economy growing, including extending tax cuts for the middle class and investing in the areas of our economy where the potential for job growth is greatest. In the weeks ahead, I’ll be discussing some of these ideas in more detail.
But one thing we also have to do right now –- one thing we have a responsibility to do right now –- is to lift up our small businesses, which accounted for over 60 percent of job losses in the final months of last year. That’s why once again, I’m calling on Congress to make passing a small business jobs bill its first order of business when it gets back into session later this month.
Now, here’s why this is so important. Up until this past May, we were not only waiving fees for entrepreneurs who took out Small Business Administration loans, we were also encouraging more community banks to make loans to responsible business owners. These steps are part of the reason about 70,000 new Small Business Administration loans have been approved since I took office. And I thank Karen Mills for the outstanding job she’s been doing as Administrator of the Small Business Administration.
We’ve also been extending — fighting to extend these loan enhancements with a small business jobs bill. It’s a bill that will more than double the amount some small business owners can borrow to grow their companies. It will completely eliminate capital gains taxes on key investments, so small business owners can buy new equipment and expand. And it will accelerate $55 billion in tax cuts for businesses, large and small, that make job-creating investments in the next 14 months.
And keep in mind, it is paid for. It will not add one dime to our deficit. So, put simply, this piece of legislation is good for workers; it’s good for small business people; it’s good for our economy. And yet, Republicans in the Senate have blocked this bill — a needless delay that has led small business owners across this country to put off hiring, put off expanding, and put off plans that will make our economy stronger.
I’ve repeated since I ran for office, there is no silver bullet that is going to solve all of our economic problems overnight. But there are certain steps that we know will make a meaningful difference for small businessmen and women, who are the primary drivers of job creation. There are certain measures that we know will advance our recovery. This small business jobs bill is one of them.
And I’m confident that if we’re willing to put partisanship aside and be the leaders the American people need us to be, if we’re willing to do what’s next not for the — what’s best not for the next election, but for the next generation, then we are not only going to see America’s hardworking families and America’s small businesses bounce back, but we’ll rebuild America’s economy stronger than it’s been before.
Thank you very much.
Q Mr. President, what are the other incentives that you mentioned Monday, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I will be addressing a broader package of ideas next week. We are confident that we are moving in the right direction, but we want to keep this recovery moving stronger and accelerate the job growth that’s needed so desperately all across the country.
Q What about a poverty agenda, Mr. President? What about a poverty agenda for all classes –
Q Mr. President, to what degree to you regret the administration’s decision to call this “Recovery Summer”?
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t regret the notion that we are moving forward because of the steps that we’ve taken. And I’m going to have a press conference next week where, after you guys are able to hear where we’re at, we’ll be able to answer some specific questions.
But the key point I’m making right now is that the economy is moving in a positive direction. Jobs are being created. They’re just not being created as fast as they need to, given the big hole that we experienced. And we’re going to have to continue to work with Republicans and Democrats to come up with ideas that can further accelerate that job growth.
I’m confident that we can do that. And the evidence that we’ve seen during the course of this summer and over the course of the last 18 months indicate that we’re moving in the right direction. We just have to speed it up.
All right? Thank you very much, everybody.
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA,
PRESIDENT HOSNI MUBARAK OF EGYPT,
HIS MAJESTY KING ABDULLAH OF JORDAN,
PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU OF ISRAEL, AND
PRESIDENT MAHMOUD ABBAS OF THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY
BEFORE WORKING DINNER
7:05 P.M. EDT
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good evening, everyone. Tomorrow, after nearly two years, Israelis and Palestinians will resume direct talks in pursuit of a goal that we all share —- two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. Tonight, I’m pleased to welcome to the White House key partners in this effort, along with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the representative of our Quartet partners, former Prime Minister Tony Blair.
President Abbas, Prime Minister Netanyahu, Your Majesty King Abdullah, and President Mubarak —- we are but five men. Our dinner this evening will be a small gathering around a single table. Yet when we come together, we will not be alone. We’ll be joined by the generations —- those who have gone before and those who will follow.
Each of you are the heirs of peacemakers who dared greatly -— Begin and Sadat, Rabin and King Hussein -— statesmen who saw the world as it was but also imagined the world as it should be. It is the shoulders of our predecessors upon which we stand. It is their work that we carry on. Now, like each of them, we must ask, do we have the wisdom and the courage to walk the path of peace?
All of us are leaders of our people, who, no matter the language they speak or the faith they practice, all basically seek the same things: to live in security, free from fear; to live in dignity, free from want; to provide for their families and to realize a better tomorrow. Tonight, they look to us, and each of us must decide, will we work diligently to fulfill their aspirations?
And though each of us holds a title of honor —- President, Prime Minister, King —- we are bound by the one title we share. We are fathers, blessed with sons and daughters. So we must ask ourselves what kind of world do we want to bequeath to our children and our grandchildren.
Tonight, and in the days and months ahead, these are the questions that we must answer. And this is a fitting moment to do so.
For Muslims, this is Ramadan. For Jews, this is Elul. It is rare for those two months to coincide. But this year, tonight, they do. Different faiths, different rituals, but a shared period of devotion —- and contemplation. A time to reflect on right and wrong; a time to ponder one’s place in the world; a time when the people of two great religions remind the world of a truth that is both simple and profound, that each of us, all of us, in our hearts and in our lives, are capable of great and lasting change.
In this spirit, I welcome my partners. And I invite each to say a few words before we begin our meal, beginning with President Mubarak, on to His Majesty King Abdullah, Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas.
PRESIDENT MUBARAK: (As prepared for delivery.) I am pleased to participate with you today in relaunching direct peace negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis. Like you, and the millions of Palestinians, Israelis, Arabs and the rest of the world, I look forward that these negotiations be final and decisive, and that they lead to a peace agreement within one year.
Our meet today would not have taken place without the considerable effort exerted by the American administration under the leadership of President Obama. I pay tribute to you, Mr. President, for your personal, serious commit and for your determination to work for a peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine since the early days of your presidency. I appreciate your perseverance throughout the past period to overcome the difficulties facing the relaunching of the negotiations.
(Continued as translated.) I consider this invitation a manifestation of your commitment and a significant message that the United States will shepherd these negotiations seriously and at the highest level.
No one realizes the value of peace more than those who have known wars and their havoc. It was my destiny to witness over many events in our region during the years of war and peace. I have gone through wars and hostilities, and have participated in the quest for peace since the first day of my administration. I have never spared an effort to push it forward, and I still look forward to its success and completion.
The efforts to achieve peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis encountered many difficulties since the Madrid Conference in October 1999, and progress and regression, breakthroughs and setbacks, but the occupation of the Palestinian Territory remains an independent — an independent Palestinian state is yet — remains a dream in the conscious of the Palestinian people.
There is no doubt that this situation should raise great frustration and anger among our people, for it is no longer acceptable or conceivable on the verge of the second decade of the third millennium that we fail to achieve just and true peace — peace that would put an end to the century of conflict, fulfill the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people, lift the occupation, allow for the establishment of normal relations between the Palestinians and Israelis.
It is true that reaching a just and comprehensive peace treaty between both sides has been an elusive hope for almost two decades. Yet the accumulated experience of both parties, the extended rounds of negotiations, and the previous understandings, particularly during the Clinton parameters of 2000, and subsequent understandings of Taba and with the previous Israeli government, all contributed in setting the outline of the final settlement.
This outline has become well known to the international community and to both peoples — the Palestinian and Israeli people. Hence, it is expected that the current negotiations will not start from scratch or in void. No doubt, the position of the international community, as is stated in the consecutive statements of the Quartet, in particular, in its latest August 20th statement, paid due respect to relevant international resolutions and supported the outline of final settlements using different formulation without prejudice to the outcome of negotiations.
It has stressed that the aim of the soon-to-start direct negotiation is to reach a peaceful settlement that would end the Israeli occupation which began in 1967, allowing for the independent and sovereign state of Palestine to emerge and live side by side in peace and security with the state of Israel.
I met with Prime Minister Netanyahu many times since he took office last year. In our meetings, I listened to assertions on his willingness to achieve peace with the Palestinians, and for history to record his name for such an achievement. I say to him today that I look forward to achieving those assertions in reality, and his success in achieving the long-awaited peace, which I know the people of Israel yearn for, just like all other people in the region.
Reaching just peace with the Palestinians will require from Israel taking important and decisive decisions — decisions that are undoubtedly difficult yet they will be necessary to achieve peace and stability, and in a different context than the one that prevailed before.
Settlement activities on the Palestinian Territory are contrary to international law. They will not create rights for Israel, nor are they going to achieve peace or security for Israel. It is, therefore, a priority to completely freeze all these activities until the entire negotiation process comes to a successful end.
I say to the Israelis, seize the current opportunity. Do not let it slip through your fingers. Make comprehensive peace your goal. Extend your hand to meet the hand already extended in the Arab Peace Initiative.
I say to President Mahmoud Abbas, Egypt will continue its faithful support to the patient Palestinian people and their just cause. We will continue our concerted efforts to help fulfill the aspirations of your people and retrieve their legitimate rights. We will stand by you until the independent state of Palestine on the land occupied since 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital. We will also continue our efforts to achieve Palestinian reconciliation for the sake of the Palestinian national interest.
Once again, I’d like to express my thanks to President Obama, and I renew Egypt’s commitment to continue exerting all efforts, sharing honest advice and a commitment to the principles on which Arab and regional policy rests upon.
Please accept my appreciation, and peace be upon you. (Applause.)
HIS MAJESTY KING ABDULLAH: (As translated.) In the name of God most merciful, most compassionate, President Obama, peace be upon you.
(In English.) For decades, a Palestinian-Israeli settlement has eluded us. Millions of men, women and children have suffered. Too many people have lost faith in our ability to bring them the peace they want. Radicals and terrorists have exploited frustrations to feed hatred and ignite wars. The whole world has been dragged into regional conflicts that cannot be addressed effectively until Arabs and Israelis find peace.
This past record drives the importance of our efforts today. There are those on both sides who want us to fail, who will do everything in their power to disrupt our efforts today — because when the Palestinians and Israelis find peace, when young men and women can look to a future of promise and opportunity, radicals and extremists lose their most potent appeal. This is why we must prevail. For our failure would be their success in sinking the region into more instability and wars that will cause further suffering in our region and beyond.
President Obama, we value your commitment to the cause of peace in our region. We count on your continued engagement to help the parties move forward. You have said that Middle East peace is in the national security interest of your country. And we believe it is. And it is also a strategic European interest, and it is a necessary requirement for global security and stability. Peace is also a right for every citizen in our region.
A Palestinian-Israeli settlement on the basis of two states living side by side is a precondition for security and stability of all countries of the Middle East, with a regional peace that will lead to normal relations between Israel and 57 Arab and Muslim states that have endorsed the Arab Peace Initiative. That would be — well, that would also be an essential step towards neutralizing forces of evil and war that threaten all peoples.
Mr. President, we need your support as a mediator, honest broker, and a partner, as the parties move along the hard but inevitable path of settlements.
Your Excellencies, all eyes are upon us. The direct negotiations that will start tomorrow must show results — and sooner rather than later. Time is not on our side. That is why we must spare no effort in addressing all final status issues with a view to reaching the two-state solution, the only solution that can create a future worthy of our great region — a future of peace in which fathers and mothers can raise their children without fear, young people can look forward to lives of achievement and hope, and 300 million people can cooperate for mutual benefit.
For too long, too many people of the region have been denied their most basic of human rights: the right to live in peace and security; respected in their human dignity; enjoying freedom and opportunity. If hopes are disappointed again, the price of failure will be too high for all.
Our peoples want us to rise to their expectations. And we can do so if we approach these negotiations with goodwill, sincerity and courage. (Applause.)
PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Mr. President, Excellencies, Shalom Aleichem. Shalom Alkulanu. Peace unto us all.
I’m very pleased to be here today to begin our common effort to achieve a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
I want to thank you, President Obama, for your tireless efforts to renew this quest for peace. I want to thank Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senator Mitchell, the many members of the Obama administration, and Tony Blair, who’ve all worked so hard to bring Israelis and Palestinians together here today.
I also want to thank President Mubarak and King Abdullah for their dedicated and meaningful support to promote peace, security, and stability throughout our region. I deeply appreciate your presence here today.
I began with a Hebrew word for peace, “shalom.” Our goal is shalom. Our goal is to forge a secure and durable peace between Israelis and Palestinians. We don’t seek a brief interlude between two wars. We don’t seek a temporary respite between outbursts of terror. We seek a peace that will end the conflict between us once and for all. We seek a peace that will last for generations — our generation, our children’s generation, and the next.
This is the peace my people fervently want. This is the peace all our peoples fervently aspire to. This is the peace they deserve.
Now, a lasting peace is a peace between peoples — between Israelis and Palestinians. We must learn to live together, to live next to one another and with one another. But every peace begins with leaders.
President Abbas, you are my partner in peace. And it is up to us, with the help of our friends, to conclude the agonizing conflict between our peoples and to afford them a new beginning. The Jewish people are not strangers in our ancestral homeland, the land of our forefathers. But we recognize that another people shares this land with us.
I came here today to find an historic compromise that will enable both our peoples to live in peace and security and in dignity. I’ve been making the case for Israel all of my life. But I didn’t come here today to make an argument. I came here today to make peace. I didn’t come here today to play a blame game where even the winners lose. Everybody loses if there’s no peace. I came here to achieve a peace that will bring a lasting benefit to us all.
I didn’t come here to find excuses or to make them. I came here to find solutions. I know the history of our conflict and the sacrifices that have been made. I know the grief that has afflicted so many families who have lost their dearest loved ones. Only yesterday four Israelis, including a pregnant women — a pregnant woman — and another woman, a mother of six children, were brutally murdered by savage terrorists. And two hours ago, there was another terror attack. And thank God no one died. I will not let the terrorists block our path to peace, but as these events underscore once again, that peace must be anchored in security.
I’m prepared to walk down the path of peace, because I know what peace would mean for our children and for our grandchildren. I know it would herald a new beginning that could unleash unprecedented opportunities for Israelis, for Palestinians, and for the peoples — all the peoples — of our region, and well beyond our region. I think it would affect the world.
I see what a period of calm has created in the Palestinian cities of Ramallah, of Janin, throughout the West Bank, a great economic boom. And real peace can turn this boom into a permanent era of progress and hope.
If we work together, we can take advantage of the great benefits afforded by our unique place under the sun. We’re the crossroads of three continents, at the crossroads of history, and the crossroads of the future. Our geography, our history, our culture, our climate, the talents of our people can be unleashed to create extraordinary opportunities in tourism, in trade, in industry, in energy, in water, in so many areas.
But peace must also be defended against its enemies. We want the skyline of the West Bank to be dominated by apartment towers — not missiles. We want the roads of the West Bank to flow with commerce — not terrorists.
And this is not a theoretic request for our people. We left Lebanon, and we got terror. We left Gaza, and we got terror once again. We want to ensure that territory we’ll concede will not be turned into a third Iranian-sponsored terror enclave armed at the heart of Israel — and may I add, also aimed at every one of us sitting on this stage.
This is why a defensible peace requires security arrangements that can withstand the test of time and the many challenges that are sure to confront us. And there will be many challenges, both great and small. Let us not get bogged down by every difference between us. Let us direct our courage, our thinking, and our decisions at those historic decisions that lie ahead.
Now, there are many skeptics. One thing there’s no shortage of, Mr. President, are skeptics. This is something that you’re so familiar with, that all of us in a position of leadership are familiar with. There are many skeptics. I suppose there are many reasons for skepticism. But I have no doubt that peace is possible.
President Abbas, we cannot erase the past, but it is within our power to change the future. Thousands of years ago, on these very hills where Israelis and Palestinians live today, the Jewish prophet Isaiah and the other prophets of my people envisaged a future of lasting peace for all mankind. Let today be an auspicious step in our joint effort to realize that ancient vision for a better future. (Applause.)
PRESIDENT ABBAS: (As translated.) His Excellency President Barack Obama, His Excellency President Hosni Mubarak, His Majesty King Abdullah II, His Excellency Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mrs. Hillary Clinton, Mr. Tony Blair, ladies and gentlemen.
I would like to start by thanking President Obama for his invitation to host us here today to relaunch the permanent status negotiations to reach a Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement covering all the permanent status issues within a year in accordance with international law and relevant resolutions.
As we move towards the relaunch of these negotiations tomorrow, we recognize the difficulties, challenges and obstacles that lie ahead. Yet we assure you, in the name of the PLO, that we will draw on years of experience in negotiations and benefit from the lessons learned to make these negotiations successful.
We also reiterate our commitment to carry out all our obligations, and we call on the Israelis to carry out their obligations, including a freeze on settlements activities, which is not setting a precondition but a call to implement an agreed obligation and to end all the closure and blockade, preventing freedom of movement, including the (inaudible) siege.
We will spare no effort and will work diligently and tirelessly to ensure that these new negotiations achieve their goals and objectives in dealing with all of the issues: Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, border security, water, as well as the release of all our prisoners — in order to achieve peace. The people of our area are looking for peace that achieves freedom, independence, and justice to the Palestinian people in their country and in their homeland and in the diaspora — our people who have endured decades of longstanding suffering.
We want a peace that will correct the historical injustice caused by the (inaudible) of 1948, and one that brings security to our people and the Israeli people. And we want peace that will give us both and the people of the region a new era where we enjoy just peace, stability, and prosperity.
Our determination stems to a great extent from your willpower, Mr. President, and your firm and sweeping drive with which you engulfed the entire world from the day you took office to set the parties on the path for peace — and also this same spirit, exhibited by Secretary Hillary Clinton and Senator George Mitchell and his team. The presence of His Excellency President Mubarak and His Majesty King Abdullah is another telling indication of their substantial and effective commitment overall, where Egypt and Jordan have been playing a supportive role for advancing the peace process. Their effective role is further demonstrated by the Arab Peace Initiative, which was fully endorsed by all of the Arab states, and the Islamic countries as well.
This initiative served a genuine and sincere opportunity to achieve a just and comprehensive peace on all tracks in our region, including the Syrian-Israeli track and the Lebanese-Israeli track, and provided a sincere opportunity to make peace.
The presence here today of the envoy of the Quartet, Mr. Tony Blair, is a most telling signal, especially since he has been personally involved in the Palestinian Authority for many years and in the efforts for state building in Palestine.
Excellencies, the time has come for us to make peace and it is time to end the occupation that started in 1967, and for the Palestinian people to get freedom, justice, and independence. It is time that a independent Palestinian state be established with sovereignty side by side with the state of Israel. It is time to put an end to the struggle in the Middle East.
The Palestinian people who insist on the rights and freedom and independence are in most need for justice, security, and peace, because they are the victim, the ones that were harmed the most from this violence. And it is sending message to our neighbors, the Israelis, and to the world that they are also careful about supporting the opportunities for the success of these negotiations and the just and lasting peace as soon as possible.
With this spirit, we will work to make these negotiations succeed. And with this spirit, we are — trust that we are capable to achieve our historical, difficult mission — making peace in the land of peace.
Mr. Netanyahu, what happened yesterday and what is happening today is also condemned. We do not want at all that any blood be shed, one drop of blood, on the part of the — from the Israelis or the Palestinians. We want people in the two countries to lead a normal life. We want them to live as neighbors and partners forever. Let us sign an agreement, a final agreement, for peace, and put an end to a very long period of struggle forever.
And peace be upon you. (Applause.)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I want to thank all the leaders for their thoughtful statements. I want to thank the delegations that are represented here because they are the ones who oftentimes are doing a lot of the work. This is just the beginning. We have a long road ahead, but I appreciate very much the leaders who are represented here for giving us such an excellent start.
And I particularly want to commend Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas for their presence here. This is not easy. Both of them have constituencies with legitimate claims, legitimate concerns, and a lot of history between them. For them to be here, to be willing to take this first step — the most difficult step — is a testament to their courage and their integrity and I think their vision for the future.
And so I am hopeful — cautiously hopeful, but hopeful — that we can achieve the goal that all four of these leaders articulated.
Thank you very much, everybody.
Readout of President Obama’s Meeting with President Mubarak of Egypt
President Obama and President Mubarak met today and reaffirmed the strong ties between Egypt and the United States of America.
The leaders stated their strong support for the resumption of direct talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and President Obama thanked President Mubarak for his leadership and support for peace in the region. They expressed their hope that the resumption of direct talks will lead to two states living side-by-side in peace and security.
President Obama and President Mubarak consulted on the details of the launch event for direct talks at the Department of State scheduled for tomorrow. The President committed to staying in close contact with President Mubarak as the talks develop, and made clear that Egypt’s leadership will be needed to ensure that the talks are successful.
The leaders also discussed various regional issues of mutual interest, and President Obama reaffirmed the importance of a vibrant civil society, open political competition, and credible and transparent elections in Egypt. The President welcomes commitments Egypt has made as part of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review.
Statement By President Obama After Bilateral Meetings With Prime Minister Netanyahu Of Israel, President Mahmoud Abbas Of The Palestinian Authority, His Majesty King Abdullah Of Jordan, And President Hosni Murbarak Of Egypt
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
AFTER BILATERAL MEETINGS WITH
PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU OF ISRAEL,
PRESIDENT MAHMOUD ABBAS OF THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY,
HIS MAJESTY KING ABDULLAH OF JORDAN,
AND PRESIDENT HOSNI MUBARAK OF EGYPT
5:27 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody.
Upon taking office, I declared that America is a friend of each nation and every person who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that the United States was ready to lead in pursuit of that future. At the beginning of my administration, I stated that it was our policy to actively and aggressively seek a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as a comprehensive peace between Israel and all of its Arab neighbors. And to support my outstanding Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton’s leadership, I appointed a special envoy and one of our nation’s finest statesmen, former Senator George Mitchell, to guide our efforts.
As I’ve said many times, our goal is a two-state solution that ends the conflict and ensures the rights and security of both Israelis and Palestinians. And despite the inevitable challenges, we have never wavered in pursuit of this goal. I’ve met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on numerous occasions. Between them, Secretary Clinton and Senator Mitchell have made countless trips to the region.
Over the past year, both the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority have taken important steps to build confidence. And with Senator Mitchell’s support, Israelis and Palestinians have engaged in several rounds of proximity talks -— even in the face of difficult circumstances. But we’ve always made it clear that the only path to lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians is direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians.
Tomorrow, after nearly two years, the parties will relaunch those direct talks.
Today, I had a series of very productive meetings with key partners in this effort. I urged Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas to recognize this as a moment of opportunity that must be seized. I thanked President Mubarak of Egypt and His Majesty King Abdullah of Jordan, for their valuable leadership and for the support that will be necessary going forward. And I look forward to hosting these four leaders at a private working dinner at the White House tonight.
I also want to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to many friends and allies, especially our Quartet partners. And former Prime Minister Tony Blair will be joining us as representing the Quartet at the dinner this evening.
The purpose of these talks is clear. These will be direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. These negotiations are intended to resolve all final status issues. The goal is a settlement, negotiated between the parties, that ends the occupation which began in 1967 and results in the emergence of an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian state, living side by side in peace and security with a Jewish state of Israel and its other neighbors. That’s the vision we are pursuing.
Now, I know these talks have been greeted in some quarters with skepticism. We are under no illusions. Passions run deep. Each side has legitimate and enduring interests. Years of mistrust will not disappear overnight. Building confidence will require painstaking diplomacy and trust by the parties. After all, there’s a reason that the two-state solution has eluded previous generations —- this is extraordinarily complex and extraordinarily difficult.
But we know that the status quo is unsustainable — for Israelis, for Palestinians, for the region and for the world. It is in the national interests of all involved, including the United States, that this conflict be brought to a peaceful conclusion.
So even as we are clear-eyed about the challenges ahead, so, too, do we see the foundation for progress. The Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority are already cooperating on a daily basis to increase security and reduce violence, to build institutions and improve conditions on the ground.
Among the Israeli and Palestinian publics, there is wide support for a two-state solution, the broad outlines of which are well known to both peoples. And even in the midst of discord, ordinary Israelis and Palestinians -— faith leaders, civil society groups, doctors, scientists, businessmen, students — find ways to work together every day. Their heroic efforts at the grassroots show that cooperation and progress is possible and should inspire us all.
In addition, Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas are two leaders who I believe want peace. Both sides have indicated that these negotiations can be completed within one year. And as I told each of them today, this moment of opportunity may not soon come again -— they cannot afford to let it slip away. Now is the time for leaders of courage and vision to deliver the peace that their people deserve.
The United States will put our full weight behind this effort. We will be an active and sustained participant. We will support those who make difficult choices in pursuit of peace. But let me very clear. Ultimately the United States cannot impose a solution, and we cannot want it more than the parties themselves. There are enormous risks involved here for all the parties concerned, but we cannot do it for them. We can create the environment and the atmosphere for negotiations, but ultimately it’s going to require the leadership on both the Palestinian and the Israeli sides, as well as those in the region who say they want a Palestinian state.
A lot of times I hear from those who insist that this is a top priority and yet do very little to actually support efforts that could bring about a Palestinian state.
So only Israelis and Palestinians can make the difficult choices and build the consensus at home for progress. Only Israelis and Palestinians can prove to each other their readiness to end this conflict and make the compromises upon which lasting peace deserves.
What the rest of us can do, including the United States, is to support those conversations, support those talks, support those efforts — not try to undermine them.
So the hard work is only beginning. Neither success nor failure is inevitable. But this much we know: If we do not make the attempt, then failure is guaranteed. If both sides do not commit to these talks in earnest, then the longstanding conflict will only continue to fester and consume another generation. And this we simply cannot allow.
We know that there will be moments that test our resolve. We know that extremists and enemies of peace will do everything in their power to destroy this effort —- as we saw in the heinous attacks near Hebron, which we have strongly condemned. But we also know this: Too much blood has already been shed. Too many lives have already been lost. Too many hearts have already been broken.
And despite what the cynics say, history teaches us that there is a different path. It is the path of resolve and determination, where compromise is possible, and old conflicts, at long last, can end. It is the path traveled by those who brought peace to their countries, from Northern Ireland — where Senator Mitchell was so deeply involved — to the Balkans, to Africa, Asia, to those who forged peace between Israel and Egypt and Israel and Jordan.
This path is open to Israelis and Palestinians. If all sides persevere, in good faith and with a sense of purpose and possibility, we can build a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.
Thank you very much.
First Lady Michelle Obama Announces White House Dance Series Beginning With Tribute To Judith Jamison
FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA ANNOUNCES WHITE HOUSE DANCE SERIES BEGINNING WITH TRIBUTE TO JUDITH JAMISON
First Lady’s September 7th White House Event Will Celebrate Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Artistic Director, Judith Jamison
On September 7th, First Lady Michelle Obama will invite world renowned dance companies to perform at the Administration’s first event celebrating dance. The White House Dance Series: A Tribute to Judith Jamison will honor Jamison for her outstanding career as an American dancer, choreographer, and Artistic Director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for the past 20 years. The event, featuring American dance from ballet, modern and contemporary dance, hip hop and Broadway will be held in the White House’s East Room at 5:00 PM and will be pooled press. The early evening event will feature performers from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Billy from Billy Elliot the Musical, The Washington Ballet, Super Cr3w, and New York City Ballet. It will be directed by Damian Woetzel, former principal dancer at the New York City Ballet and member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.
In continuing the Administration’s focus on supporting the arts and arts education, a dance workshop will be held in the White House East Room on September 7th at 3:00 PM. Dance companies will lead a segment of the workshop focusing on their genre. Students from the Alvin Ailey School, Ballet Hispanico, Cab Calloway School of the Arts (CCSA), Dance Theatre of Harlem, Interlochen Center for the Arts, The Washington School of Ballet, the National Dance Institute’s New York, Colorado and New Mexico affiliates, the Chicago Multicultural Dance Center and the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts will participate in this 90 minute workshop and then attend the early evening performance as guests. The start of this event will be open press. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org, indicate if you have a White House Hard Pass or send your vitals by Friday, September 3rd at 10:00 AM.
Judith Jamison has been artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for two decades. One of the most renowned figures in modern dance, she was Mr. Ailey’s muse for whom he created the tour-de-force solo Cry and other enduring roles. As a highly regarded choreographer, Ms. Jamison has created works for many different companies. She is also an author, whose autobiography was edited by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Ms. Jamison is the recipient of a primetime Emmy Award, the Kennedy Center Honors, and the National Medal of Arts, and she was named in TIME’s 2009 list of the world’s 100 most influential people.
Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery
Oval Office Address on Iraq
August 31, 2010
As Prepared for Delivery—
Good evening. Tonight, I’d like to talk to you about the end of our combat mission in Iraq, the ongoing security challenges we face, and the need to rebuild our nation here at home.
I know this historic moment comes at a time of great uncertainty for many Americans. We have now been through nearly a decade of war. We have endured a long and painful recession. And sometimes in the midst of these storms, the future that we are trying to build for our nation – a future of lasting peace and long-term prosperity may seem beyond our reach.
But this milestone should serve as a reminder to all Americans that the future is ours to shape if we move forward with confidence and commitment. It should also serve as a message to the world that the United States of America intends to sustain and strengthen our leadership in this young century.
From this desk, seven and a half years ago, President Bush announced the beginning of military operations in Iraq. Much has changed since that night. A war to disarm a state became a fight against an insurgency. Terrorism and sectarian warfare threatened to tear Iraq apart. Thousands of Americans gave their lives; tens of thousands have been wounded. Our relations abroad were strained. Our unity at home was tested.
These are the rough waters encountered during the course of one of America’s longest wars. Yet there has been one constant amidst those shifting tides. At every turn, America’s men and women in uniform have served with courage and resolve. As Commander-in-Chief, I am proud of their service. Like all Americans, I am awed by their sacrifice, and by the sacrifices of their families.
The Americans who have served in Iraq completed every mission they were given. They defeated a regime that had terrorized its people. Together with Iraqis and coalition partners who made huge sacrifices of their own, our troops fought block by block to help Iraq seize the chance for a better future. They shifted tactics to protect the Iraqi people; trained Iraqi Security Forces; and took out terrorist leaders. Because of our troops and civilians –and because of the resilience of the Iraqi people – Iraq has the opportunity to embrace a new destiny, even though many challenges remain.
So tonight, I am announcing that the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country.
This was my pledge to the American people as a candidate for this office. Last February, I announced a plan that would bring our combat brigades out of Iraq, while redoubling our efforts to strengthen Iraq’s Security Forces and support its government and people. That is what we have done. We have removed nearly 100,000 U.S. troops from Iraq. We have closed or transferred hundreds of bases to the Iraqis. And we have moved millions of pieces of equipment out of Iraq.
This completes a transition to Iraqi responsibility for their own security. U.S. troops pulled out of Iraq’s cities last summer, and Iraqi forces have moved into the lead with considerable skill and commitment to their fellow citizens. Even as Iraq continues to suffer terrorist attacks, security incidents have been near the lowest on record since the war began. And Iraqi forces have taken the fight to al Qaeda, removing much of its leadership in Iraqi-led operations.
This year also saw Iraq hold credible elections that drew a strong turnout. A caretaker administration is in place as Iraqis form a government based on the results of that election. Tonight, I encourage Iraq’s leaders to move forward with a sense of urgency to form an inclusive government that is just, representative, and accountable to the Iraqi people. And when that government is in place, there should be no doubt: the Iraqi people will have a strong partner in the United States. Our combat mission is ending, but our commitment to Iraq’s future is not.
Going forward, a transitional force of U.S. troops will remain in Iraq with a different mission: advising and assisting Iraq’s Security Forces; supporting Iraqi troops in targeted counter-terrorism missions; and protecting our civilians. Consistent with our agreement with the Iraqi government, all U.S. troops will leave by the end of next year. As our military draws down, our dedicated civilians –diplomats, aid workers, and advisors –are moving into the lead to support Iraq as it strengthens its government, resolves political disputes, resettles those displaced by war, and builds ties with the region and the world. And that is a message that Vice President Biden is delivering to the Iraqi people through his visit there today.
This new approach reflects our long-term partnership with Iraq–one based upon mutual interests, and mutual respect. Of course, violence will not end with our combat mission. Extremists will continue to set off bombs, attack Iraqi civilians and try to spark sectarian strife. But ultimately, these terrorists will fail to achieve their goals. Iraqis are a proud people. They have rejected sectarian war, and they have no interest in endless destruction. They understand that, in the end, only Iraqis can resolve their differences and police their streets. Only Iraqis can build a democracy within their borders. What America can do, and will do, is provide support for the Iraqi people as both a friend and a partner.
Ending this war is not only in Iraq’s interest– it is in our own. The United States has paid a huge price to put the future of Iraq in the hands of its people. We have sent our young men and women to make enormous sacrifices in Iraq, and spent vast resources abroad at a time of tight budgets at home. We have persevered because of a belief we share with the Iraqi people –a belief that out of the ashes of war, a new beginning could be born in this cradle of civilization. Through this remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq, we have met our responsibility. Now, it is time to turn the page.
As we do, I am mindful that the Iraq War has been a contentious issue at home. Here, too, it is time to turn the page. This afternoon, I spoke to former President George W. Bush. It’s well known that he and I disagreed about the war from its outset. Yet no one could doubt President Bush’s support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security. As I have said, there were patriots who supported this war, and patriots who opposed it. And all of us are united in appreciation for our servicemen and women, and our hope for Iraq’s future.
The greatness of our democracy is grounded in our ability to move beyond our differences, and to learn from our experience as we confront the many challenges ahead. And no challenge is more essential to our security than our fight against al Qaeda.
Americans across the political spectrum supported the use of force against those who attacked us on 9/11. Now, as we approach our 10th year of combat in Afghanistan, there are those who are understandably asking tough questions about our mission there. But we must never lose sight of what’s at stake. As we speak, al Qaeda continues to plot against us, and its leadership remains anchored in the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan. We will disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda, while preventing Afghanistan from again serving as a base for terrorists. And because of our drawdown in Iraq, we are now able to apply the resources necessary to go on offense. In fact, over the last 19 months, nearly a dozen al Qaeda leaders –and hundreds of Al Qaeda’s extremist allies–have been killed or captured around the world.
Within Afghanistan, I have ordered the deployment of additional troops who–under the command of General David Petraeus –are fighting to break the Taliban’s momentum. As with the surge in Iraq, these forces will be in place for a limited time to provide space for the Afghans to build their capacity and secure their own future. But, as was the case in Iraq, we cannot do for Afghans what they must ultimately do for themselves. That’s why we are training Afghan Security Forces and supporting a political resolution to Afghanistan’s problems. And, next July, we will begin a transition to Afghan responsibility. The pace of our troop reductions will be determined by conditions on the ground, and our support for Afghanistan will endure. But make no mistake: this transition will begin – because open-ended war serves neither our interests nor the Afghan people’s.
Indeed, one of the lessons of our effort in Iraq is that American influence around the world is not a function of military force alone. We must use all elements of our power –including our diplomacy, our economic strength, and the power of America’s example –to secure our interests and stand by our allies. And we must project a vision of the future that is based not just on our fears, but also on our hopes –a vision that recognizes the real dangers that exist around the world, but also the limitless possibility of our time.
Today, old adversaries are at peace, and emerging democracies are potential partners. New markets for our goods stretch from Asia to the Americas. A new push for peace in the Middle East will begin here tomorrow. Billions of young people want to move beyond the shackles of poverty and conflict. As the leader of the free world, America will do more than just defeat on the battlefield those who offer hatred and destruction –we will also lead among those who are willing to work together to expand freedom and opportunity for all people.
That effort must begin within our own borders. Throughout our history, America has been willing to bear the burden of promoting liberty and human dignity overseas, understanding its link to our own liberty and security. But we have also understood that our nation’s strength and influence abroad must be firmly anchored in our prosperity at home. And the bedrock of that prosperity must be a growing middle class.
Unfortunately, over the last decade, we have not done what is necessary to shore up the foundation of our own prosperity. We have spent over a trillion dollars at war, often financed by borrowing from overseas. This, in turn, has short-changed investments in our own people, and contributed to record deficits. For too long, we have put off tough decisions on everything from our manufacturing base to our energy policy to education reform. As a result, too many middle class families find themselves working harder for less, while our nation’s long-term competitiveness is put at risk.
And so at this moment, as we wind down the war in Iraq, we must tackle those challenges at home with as much energy, and grit, and sense of common purpose as our men and women in uniform who have served abroad. They have met every test that they faced. Now, it is our turn. Now, it is our responsibility to honor them by coming together, all of us, and working to secure the dream that so many generations have fought for –the dream that a better life awaits anyone who is willing to work for it and reach for it.
Our most urgent task is to restore our economy, and put the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs back to work. To strengthen our middle class, we must give all our children the education they deserve, and all our workers the skills that they need to compete in a global economy. We must jumpstart industries that create jobs, and end our dependence on foreign oil. We must unleash the innovation that allows new products to roll off our assembly lines, and nurture the ideas that spring from our entrepreneurs. This will be difficult. But in the days to come, it must be our central mission as a people, and my central responsibility as President.
Part of that responsibility is making sure that we honor our commitments to those who have served our country with such valor. As long as I am President, we will maintain the finest fighting force that the world has ever known, and do whatever it takes to serve our veterans as well as they have served us. This is a sacred trust. That is why we have already made one of the largest increases in funding for veterans in decades. We are treating the signature wounds of today’s wars post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury, while providing the health care and benefits that all of our veterans have earned. And we are funding a post-9/11 GI Bill that helps our veterans and their families pursue the dream of a college education. Just as the GI Bill helped those who fought World War II- including my grandfather- become the backbone of our middle class, so today’s servicemen and women must have the chance to apply their gifts to expand the American economy. Because part of ending a war responsibly is standing by those who have fought it.
Two weeks ago, America’s final combat brigade in Iraq –the Army’s Fourth Stryker Brigade –journeyed home in the pre-dawn darkness. Thousands of soldiers and hundreds of vehicles made the trip from Baghdad, the last of them passing into Kuwait in the early morning hours. Over seven years before, American troops and coalition partners had fought their way across similar highways, but this time no shots were fired. It was just a convoy of brave Americans, making their way home.
Of course, the soldiers left much behind. Some were teenagers when the war began. Many have served multiple tours of duty, far from their families who bore a heroic burden of their own, enduring the absence of a husband’s embrace or a mother’s kiss. Most painfully, since the war began fifty-five members of the Fourth Stryker Brigade made the ultimate sacrifice –part of over 4,400 Americans who have given their lives in Iraq. As one staff sergeant said, “I know that to my brothers in arms who fought and died, this day would probably mean a lot.”
Those Americans gave their lives for the values that have lived in the hearts of our people for over two centuries. Along with nearly 1.5 million Americans who have served in Iraq, they fought in a faraway place for people they never knew. They stared into the darkest of human creations –war –and helped the Iraqi people seek the light of peace.
In an age without surrender ceremonies, we must earn victory through the success of our partners and the strength of our own nation. Every American who serves joins an unbroken line of heroes that stretches from Lexington to Gettysburg; from Iwo Jima to Inchon; from Khe Sanh to Kandahar – Americans who have fought to see that the lives of our children are better than our own. Our troops are the steel in our ship of state. And though our nation may be travelling through rough waters, they give us confidence that our course is true, and that beyond the pre-dawn darkness, better days lie ahead.
Thank you. May God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America, and all who serve her.
NATIONAL PROSTATE CANCER AWARENESS MONTH, 2010- – - – - – -
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICAA PROCLAMATION
Although its mortality rate has steadily fallen in the last decade, prostate cancer is still the second leading cause of cancer deaths among men in the United States. This year alone, nearly 218,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, and more than 32,000 men will die from this disease. National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month gives us the opportunity to renew our commitment to fight this disease by finding better ways to prevent, detect, and treat it.
The exact causes of prostate cancer are not known, but awareness can help men make more informed choices about their health. Researchers have identified several factors that may increase a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer, including age, race, and family history. According to the National Cancer Institute, avoiding smoking, losing weight, maintaining a healthy diet, and exercising may all help prevent certain cancers. We must ensure that more men are informed about all aspects of this disease, including early detection and possible treatment. I encourage men to talk with their doctors about risk factors, prevention, and preventative screenings. And I invite all Americans to visit Cancer.gov for more information and resources about the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of prostate and other cancers.
Until we find a cure for this disease, my Administration will continue promoting awareness of this illness and supportingprostate cancer research and treatment, including research to help determine why prostate cancer affects some racial and ethnic groups more than others. The National Cancer Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Department of Defense all play vital roles in reducing the burden of prostate cancer through critical investments in research.
The health care reforms included in the landmark Affordable Care Act also address specific needs of individuals fighting cancer, including removing annual and lifetime caps on insurance coverage, prohibiting insurance companies from dropping coverage after an individual gets sick, and guaranteeing insurance coverage for individuals participating in clinical trials, the cornerstone of cancer research.
As we observe National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, we stand by the fathers, brothers, husbands, and sons battling prostate cancer, as well as their families and the health care providers, researchers, and advocates who are working to combatthis disease and save lives. By joining together to raise awareness of prostate cancer and supporting research, we can continue to make progress against this devastating disease.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 2010 as Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. I encourage all citizens, Government agencies, private businesses, nonprofit organizations, and other groups to join in activities that will increase awareness and prevention of prostate cancer.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of August, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.