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Israeli, Palestinian leaders mostly praise peace prize for Obama

Israeli President Shimon Peres congratulates Obama. A spokesman for the Palestinian Authority says there's hope the Nobel will be an 'incentive' for the president to help end the region's conflict.

October 10, 2009|Richard Boudreaux

JERUSALEM — The Nobel Peace Prize committee's choice puzzled Israelis and Palestinians. Official praise for President Obama overlay broader sentiment that the prize was undeserved or premature. There was also a tinge of wariness on each side of the conflict that the American president's enhanced prestige might somehow work in favor of the adversary.

A Palestinian Authority spokesman, Ghassan Khatib, said Palestinians hope the prize "will provide an additional incentive" for Obama to keep striving to end the decades-old conflict.

Israeli President Shimon Peres, who shared the peace prize in 1994, sent a congratulatory message.

And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chimed in: "You have already inspired so many people around the world. . . . I look forward to working closely with you in the years ahead to advance peace."

But Reuven Rivlin, speaker of Israel's parliament, called the Nobel decision "very strange" and said he hoped it would not embolden Obama to "dictate a peace accord to Israel.

"Someone who gets a peace prize should not force-feed Israel with his version of peace."

Gil Alon, a 37-year-old Israeli mathematician, was typical of those who shrugged off the news. He joked that perhaps the Nobel was given as a consolation prize after Obama's failed bid to bring the 2016 Olympic Games to Chicago.


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