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Obama’s legacy could be to solve Palestine problem: Kito de Boer

Clintons intimately familiar with Israeli issues: De Boer

In less than two weeks, the President of the United States will be decided, yet there's still a chance for the current incumbent, Barack Obama, to cement his legacy, and it could be connected to Palestine, the head of mission at the one of the leading bodies in the Middle East peace process, told CNBC.

Speaking to the "CNBC Conversation", the diplomat tasked with searching for peace in one of the most tumultuous regions of the Middle East, Kito de Boer, said he believed the "most keenly awaited time period" to look into this, would be after the election but before President Obama steps down.

"The question is what can (Obama) do in those remaining weeks," Kito de Boer, head of mission at the Office of the Quartet, told CNBC.

"If you put the test of 'what is a lasting legacy', one thing that I would argue is: simply recognize the two states, recognize Palestine. We talk about the fact that where the two-state solution is under threat, well, you know, that is something that the U.S. government could do."

It's a conflict that dates back almost 70 years. The struggle between the Israelis and Palestinians has taken many twists and turns over the years, including the death of thousands, the displacement of millions, and deteriorated economies.

President Barack Obama addresses the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters, September 20, 2016 in New York City.
Getty Images

Will the U.S. government proceed on this peace deal? That remains unclear said de Boer, adding that there are also discussions about taking Security Council resolutions to the United Nations (UN).

"There could be a resolution around settlements. There was a previous resolution around settlements and that was vetoed only by the U.S. and the President has been on the record of saying 'Well if we rerun that now we would have to think seriously about whether we would veto it, because we vetoed it last time because there was a peace process under way and we didn't want to prejudice that.' Well there is no peace process now."

That's not to say that it's not still a key issue for Obama. In September, the U.S. president told the U.N. that both sides would benefit if Palestinians rejected incitement and acknowledged the legitimacy of Israel, while Israel accepted that it couldn't occupy Palestinian land forever; Reuters reported.

During Obama's time in the White House, he has brought the conversation of a peace agreement between the two regions to the table, but has yet to succeed, with the most recent drive being seen by U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry in 2014.

The Clintons are ‘intimate with the issues of Israel’

When asked who he thought would be a better fit for building peace in the Middle East—Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton—de Boer said it was uncertain at present.

"(It's) unclear at the moment. Donald Trump is talking about making a decision to immediately move the embassy to Jerusalem and make that the acknowledged capital of Israel. That actually is not particularly new news."

Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton prior to their first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, September 26, 2016.
Mike Segar | Reuters

"It's unclear quite what his other policies would be. Reading their Manifesto — they do not talk about occupation in that at all. So I think we would have to see what would happen."

"On the Clinton side. Bill and Hillary Clinton are intimate with the issues of Israel, probably more so than almost any other group of people. So I think they have a very personal and in-depth understanding of that."

"But it is unclear what people will do."

Reuters contributed to this report.

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