Obama: Palestine deserves a state of their own

(Photo: Reuters / Ammar Awad)U.S. President Barack Obama (L) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas leave after a joint news conference at the Muqata presidential compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah March 21, 2013. Obama said on Thursday that settlement building in the occupied West Bank did not "advance the cause of peace", but stopped short of demanding a construction freeze to enable negotiations to resume.

President Obama told Palestinians Thursday that the U.S. is committed to the creation of a free and sovereign state during his visit to the West Bank.

"The Palestinian people deserve an end to occupation and the daily indignities that come with it," said Obama in a joint press conference with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas.

"Put simply, Palestinians deserve a state of their own."

It was Obama's first visit to Palestine as the president.

He said "possibility continues to exist for a two-state solution," but said the continued settlement activity in the West Bank to be one of the challenges for negotiations.

"We do not consider continued settlement activity to be constructive, to be appropriate, to be something that can advance the cause of peace," said Obama.

Speaking to students in Israel, the president said Palestinians have the right to self-determination and that the U.S. opposes unilateral efforts to bypass negotiations through the United Nations.

"Put yourself in their shoes. Look at the world through their eyes. It is not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of their own," said Obama at the Jerusalem International Convention Center.

The president arrived in Israel Wednesday for his Middle East trip. He is expected to visit Jordan before heading back to the United States.

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