Obama presents Mideast peace vision

2011-05-19 22:14

Washington - US President Barack Obama on Thursday threw his weight behind the tumultuous drive for democratic change in the Arab world and presented his most detailed vision yet on the path to elusive Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Obama, in his much-anticipated "Arab spring" speech, hailed popular unrest sweeping the Middle East as a "historic opportunity" and said promoting reform was his administration's top priority for a region caught up in unprecedented upheaval.

He also ratcheted up pressure on Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, saying for the first time that he must stop a brutal crackdown or "get out of the way," and prodded US allies Yemen and Bahrain as well for democratic transformation.

Obama's bid to reset ties with a skeptical Arab world was aimed at countering criticism over an uneven response to the region's uprisings that threaten both US friends and foes and his failure to advance Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking.

His blunt language toward US ally Israel about the need to find an end to its occupation of Arab land could complicate his talks on Friday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while easing Arab doubts of his commitment to even-handed US mediation.

"The dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation," Obama told an audience of US and foreign diplomats at the State Department in Washington.

Most of Obama's speech focused on the unrest convulsing the Arab world, though he did not abandon his approach of balancing support for democratic aspirations with a desire to preserve longtime partnerships seen as crucial to fighting al-Qaeda, containing Iran and securing vital oil supplies.

"The people have risen up to demand their basic human rights and two leaders have stepped aside. More may follow," he said.


Seizing on a decades-old conflict long seen as a key catalyst of Middle East tensions, Obama went further than he has before in offering principles for resolving a stalemate between Israel and the Palestinians.

But he stopped short of presenting a formal US peace plan - an omission that could disappoint many in the Arab world - after having failed to make progress on the Israeli-Palestinian front since taking office in 2009.

Among the parameters he laid down was that any agreement creating a state of Palestine had to be based on borders that existed before Israel captured the West Bank in a 1967 Arab-Israel war but "with mutually agreed swaps" of land.

Though not a US policy shift in itself, Obama's insistence on that point - plus his criticism of continued Israeli "settlement activity" - sends a message to Netanyahu that Washington expected the Jewish state to make concessions.

Obama also reaffirmed an unshakable commitment to Israel's security and condemned what he called "symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations," referring to the Palestinians plan to seek General Assembly recognition for statehood in September.

But he acknowledged that a new reconciliation deal between the Palestinian Authority and the Islamist group Hamas raised "legitimate questions" for Israel, which has condemned the accord as blocking any new peace talks.

Struggling to regain the initiative in a week of intense Middle East diplomacy, Obama seized an opportunity to reach out to the Arab world following the death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of US Navy commandos.

  • V4Vendetta - 2011-05-19 22:37

    here's a great link iro this crap news24 'report' In May of 2009 reports were coming out of President Obama’s support for Palestinian statehood. There were restrictions, to be sure, but the call for a contiguous Palestinian state was seen as a major move, unheard of for a US President. Two years later, President Obama is planning to give another speech Thursday night, on the eve of a state visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The new speech is said to be a significant retreat, with the president openly condemning the Palestinian bid for statehood and issuing new demands to the Palestinian Authority. The two year interim between the two policy positions has been a rocky one, with the US starting a mostly unproductive indirect negotiation system that was replaced by an extremely brief direct negotiation. This too collapsed in September when Israel began expanding its settlements again, and the process had been dead ever since. President Obama is expected once again to call on Israel to “cease settlement expansion,” even though Netanyahu and other top Israeli officials have ruled out ever allowing another freeze. Though the State Department denied being “pessimistic” about the peace process, the speech seems to be mostly an admission of failure, backing off the positions that would have ended with a two-state solution and replacing it with, primarily, demands that the Palestinian Authority recognize Israel as a “Jewish” state.

      slg - 2011-05-20 06:38

      As mentioned elsewhere Vendetta, is not a balanced and credible news source

      slg - 2011-05-20 06:47

      These are:

      slg - 2011-05-20 06:48

      Correction. The second site should be:

  • Krush - 2011-05-19 23:08

    ...When the 7 year middle east peace treaty is signed with Israel the clock starts ticking...

      John - 2011-05-20 17:11


  • thetruth - 2011-05-20 00:18

    "WAR MONGER" OBAMA...typical "DEVILS ADVOCATE" like bush,blair and brown

      slg - 2011-05-20 19:09

      What are you shouting about?

  • Xristos Sfetsios - 2011-05-20 00:45

    great... talk about regurgitating mainstream nonsense!!! Take what the US gives you and throw it to the people of SA. It is bad enough South African's are not well informed enough... but when you just copy and paste dribble like ..i really start to worry. Where is the real journalism gone. Obama is no better than Bush. They kill for their needs and people are so ignorant as to let it carry on and support them.

      kidblack - 2011-05-20 02:13

      Reuters releases an article. That article then finds its way, either wholly, in part, or partially regurgitated, onto more than 80% of global news media. All channels always report on the same news. All facts listed are the same facts. No one questions, refutes, or otherwise checks the validity of these. They have armies of snazzy reporters all saying exactly the same thing. It seemingly takes a few words and impressive pictures to make people believe anything. Why? Because they are too busy to "think". They outsource their responsibility for truth to global media. They say "Its CNN. It has to be true." well think again.

      slg - 2011-05-20 19:11

      You're missing multiple layers of reality and incredible events sweeping through our world. The future creates the present and it is changing our current reality rapidly, for the better.

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