Opening Mideast talks just after fresh violence, President Barack Obama on Wednesday warned militant Hamas that the United States and its allies won't be stopped in their pursuit of peace by the acts of terrorists.
Standing with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House, Obama condemned the killings on Tuesday of four Israelis who were shot while traveling near the West Bank city of Hebron. Hamas, which rejects Israel's right to exist and opposes peace talks, claimed responsibility.
"I want everybody to be very clear," Obama said. "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 attacks. And so the message should go out to Hamas and everyone else who is taking credit for these heinous crimes that this is not going to stop us."
Netanyahu praised Obama for his support and for expressing the sentiments of "decent people everywhere." Both leaders said their opening talks on Wednesday morning, part of a series of separate discussions, that also were to include Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, were productive.
In remarks to reporters before their meeting Tuesday evening at a Washington hotel, Netanyahu, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at his side, said: "We will not let terror decide where Israelis live or the configuration of our final borders. These and other issues will be determined in negotiations for peace that we are conducting and in these negotiations."
Clinton was equally firm.
"We pledge to do all we can always to protect and defend the state of Israel and to provide security to the Israeli people," she said. "That is one of the paramount objectives that Israel has and the United States supports in these negotiations."
West Bank settlers said Wednesday they will break a government freeze on construction in their communities to protest the attack.
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