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Obama to Rivlin: Important to try to reach peace between Israel, Palestinians

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 Rivlin and his wife Nechama were the guests of honor at the traditional White House Hanukka candle lighting ceremony

WASHINGTON — Peace between Israel and the Palestinians may seem distant, but America remains committed to the cause, US President Barack Obama said on Wednesday, hosting President Reuven Rivlin in the Oval Office.

The president invited Rivlin to be his special guest at this year\’s White House Hanukkah reception. Before the party, the two leaders met in the Oval Office to discuss security cooperation and the lack of progress in peace talks.

Obama said he had been "clear" in his condemnation of Palestinian violence against Israelis in recent months, and called on Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas to join his condemnation of the slew of stabbings, vehicular attacks and shootings that have terrorized the country\’s Jews.

"Although obviously this is a time which the prospects of serious peace may seem distant, it is important that we continue to try," Obama said. "And I know that president Rivlin has made it one of his hallmarks to improve dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians."

Rivlin, for his part, kept his comments brief and broad, lauding the timeless bond between Israel and the US, and Obama for his leadership.

"We have no war with Islam. We have war against those who are using ideas in order to create extremism, and threats towards the whole innocent people in the world," said Rivlin.

In an homage to the holiday, Rivlin called Obama a shamash— a leader unto others, like the candle on a menorah responsible for lighting the rest.

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