Friday, September 23, 2011

Obama a Star of David Backs Israel, riles Palestinians in UN speech

Under intense political pressure at home, President Obama yesterday delivered his strongest defense of Israel yet, rejecting a bid for statehood by Palestinian officials -- who were left holding their heads in anger during yesterday’s UN General Assembly.
“There are no shortcuts [to peace],” Obama said, of the Palestinian plan to formally apply for UN membership tomorrow.
“Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations. If it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now,” he said.
Obama took pains to demonstrate US support for Israel’s security, which he called “unshak-able,” and stressed the threats from across its borders. “Let’s be honest: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it.”
Almost immediately after his address, Obama got a strong endorsement from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who signaled that the speech had repaired their frayed relations.
“I want to thank you, Mr. President, for standing with Israel and supporting peace,” he told Obama in a joint appearance that could have been a re-election campaign ad.
“This is a badge of honor, and I want to thank you for wearing that badge of honor.”
But Palestinian officials, including some who called the speech “a stab in the back,” were furious. One member of the Palestinian UN delegation could be seen shaking his head vigorously during Obama’s comments.
Obama gave the Palestinians some of what they wanted to hear, by deploring the stalled peace talks and citing the “new basis for negotiations” that he offered in May.
But he made no mention of his call in May for negotiations to be based on the 1967 Israeli borders -- a change in White House policy that had outraged Netanyahu and led to a frigid cooling in US-Israel relations.
Palestinians also complained that Obama failed to mention the suffering of West Bank residents. On the other hand, he cited the Holocaust and the history of Arab terror attacks and violence.
Israel’s hard-line foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, was delighted by the remarks. “I am ready to sign on this speech with both hands,” he said.

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