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Obama to Israel: Reverse 'undertow of isolation

Thursday - 3/21/2013, 3:22pm  ET

JERUSALEM (AP) -- President Barack Obama is calling on Israel to reverse what he says is an "undertow of isolation."

In a speech Thursday in Jerusalem to scores of university students, Obama says peace in the Middle East is necessary because it is the only true path to security. He says the only way for Israel to endure and thrive in the region as a Jewish and democratic state is through the realization of an independent and viable Palestine.

Given the frustration of the international community, the president says Israel "must reverse an undertow of isolation" to aid the process.

Obama is on his first visit to the close U.S. ally Israel as president. He spoke after a trip to the West Bank, where he met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (mahk-MOOD' ah-BAHS').

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