Can’t We All Just Get Along? Obama Hosts Mideast Peace Talks

1||September 1-2: Israeli and Palestinian leaders open Middle East peace talks in Washington, D.C. for the first time in more than 18 months. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas eventually agree to to meet every two weeks to work towards the goal of achieving a peace deal within a year. Present at the talks, and pictured above, are Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Netanyahu, U.S. President Barack Obama, Mahmoud Abbas, and King Abdullah II of Jordan, as they walk toward the East Room of the White House for statements on the first day the talks. “This moment of opportunity may not soon come again,” Obama said before the talks began. “They cannot afford to let it slip away.” ||Newscom/PHL&&

2||September 1: Chief of Protocol Capricia Marshall waits for the arrival of President Mubarak on the South Portico of the White House. ||Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy&&

3||President Obama welcomes Prime Minister Netanyahu in the Oval Office. After their meeting, the President discussed a terrorist attack this week near Hebron: “I want everybody to be very clear: The United States is going to be unwavering in its support of Israel’s security and we are going to push back against these kinds of terrorist activities.” ||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

4||In his own remarks, Netanyahu said: “I think that the President’s statement is an expression of our desire to fight against this terror. And the talks that we had, which were, indeed, open, productive, serious in the quest for peace, also centered around the need to have security arrangements that are able to roll back this kind of terror and other threats to Israel’s security. That is a fundamental element, an important foundation, of the peace that we seek and work for.”||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

5||”We’ve got a lot of work to do,” President Obama said. “There are going to be those who are going to do everything they can to undermine these talks, but we are going to remain stalwart.”||Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson&&

6||President Abbas and President Obama meet in the Oval Office. Before their meeting, Obama said: “I have the utmost confidence in [Abbas] and his belief in a two-state solution in which the people of Israel and the Palestinians are living side by side in peace and security. And so I am also grateful to him for his presence here today.”||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

7||Abbas and Obama during an extended bilateral meeting in the Oval Office. Abbas later called on Israel to end the blockade of the Gaza Strip and stop settlement activity, but acknowleged the need for Israel to protect itself: “We want to state our commitment to follow on all our … engagements, including security and ending incitement.” ||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

8||Obama escorts Abbas to his motorcade after their meeting.||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

9|| ||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

10||The President talks in the Oval Office with members of his Middle East Policy team, including from left, Dan Shapiro, NSC Senior Director for the Middle East; Dennis Ross, Senior Director for the Central Region; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; and George Mitchell, Middle East Envoy for Peace.||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

11||Obama holds an expanded delegation bilateral meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan.||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

12||The President awaits the start of a meeting with staffers, including George Mitchell.||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

13||President Hosni Mubarak meets with the President. “The hard work is only beginning,” Obama said later in a press conference in the Rose Garden. “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 long-standing conflict will only continue to fester and consume another generation, and this we simply cannot allow.”||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

14||Obama, with Clinton and Mitchell, leaves the Oval Office to attend the press conference. “It’s very important to create a sense that this has a definite concluding point,” Mitchell told reporters earlier. “And we believe that it can be done.” ||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

15||From left, National Security Advisor Gen. James Jones; Tony Blair, the international Middle East envoy; Netanyahu; Clinton; and Abbas talk in the Blue Room of the White House. “We pledge to do all we can always to protect and defend the state of Israel and to provide security to the Israeli people,” Clinton said in the press conference earlier. “That is one of the paramount objectives that Israel has and the United States supports in these negotiations.”||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

16||Abbas, Netanyahu, King Abdullah II, Mubarak and Obama before a press conference. “”It is up to us to overcome the agonizing conflict between our peoples and to forge a new beginning,” Netanyahu said. “The Jewish people are not strangers in our homeland, the land of our forefathers. But we recognize that another people share this land with us. And I came here today to find a historic compromise that will enable both peoples to live in peace, security and dignity.”||Newscom/imagostock&&

17||Hillary Clinton, during the press conference. She told Netanyahu and Abbas as the talks began: “We are convinced that if you move forward in good faith and do not waiver in your commitment to succeed on behalf of your people, we can resolve all of the core issues within one year. You have the opportunity to end this conflict and the decades of enmity between your peoples once and for all.”||Newscom/imagostock&&

18||Obama speaks during the press conference: “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.”||Newscom/pts&&

19||Abbas, Netanyahu, and Obama talk after the press conference.||Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy&&

20||Prior to the start of their working dinner with Obama, Mubarak, Netanyahu, and Abbas check their watches to see if it is officially sunset.||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

21||The working dinner with, clockwise from left, Mubarak, Obama, King Abdullah II, Clinton, Netanyahu, Abbas, and Blair in the Old Family Dining Room.||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

22||September 2: Clinton hosts, from right, Netanyahu, Abbas, and Mitchell in the Monroe Room of the State Department moments before direct talks begin. “This will not be easy,” Netanyahu said. “A true peace, a lasting peace, would be achieved only with mutual and painful concessions from both sides.”||Newscom/CNP&&

23||Netanyahu and Abbas shake hands as Clinton looks on, after the leaders agreed to meet every two weeks until a deal is forged. The next meeting will take place September 14-15 in Egypt.||Newscom/Zuma&&