“Peace is hard,” President Obama said multiple times Wednesday in his speech on the Mideast to the United Nations. Few would disagree with him, and yet he made it clear he did not think that was the same thing as saying, “Peace is impossible.”

In that he is right, but he also was right to tell the Palestinian government in the West Bank that a unilateral plea to the Security Council for recognition as an independent state would greatly damage relations with Israel and do nothing to advance the cause of peace.

As the president noted, there is “no shortcut” to a solution to those differences. “Ultimately,” he said, “peace depends upon compromise among people who must live together long after our speeches are over, long after our votes have been tallied.”

But he added that the U.S. commitment to Israel was “unshakable,” a phrase that echoed American presidents’ words since the Jewish homeland was founded by a U.N. resolution in 1948. For Obama, however, whose commitment to that cause has sometimes seemed considerably less than wholehearted in the past, vocal support now may be as much a political necessity as a moral commitment.

As evidence of that pressure, a leading Republican opponent, Rick Perry, gave a speech Tuesday in Manhattan that called for “reconsideration” of U.S. aid to the Palestinians. The Texas governor told Jewish leaders and newly elected U.S. Rep. Bob Turner that “America should not be ambivalent between the terrorist tactics of Hamas and the security tactics of the legitimate and free state of Israel.”

While Obama has to keep his negotiating options intact, support for Israeli freedom is essential both at home and abroad. As he correctly said, only Israel and the Palestinians can reach a lasting agreement.

No one else can do it for them.