Obama's Take on the Middle East

The U.S. President says he believes in a separate Palestinian state.

Published: May 20th 2011
in News » World

President Obama.

In an unprecedented speech on Thursday, U.S. President Barack Obama expressly conveyed the long held yet rarely stated U.S. policy that the borders of a future Palestinian state should reflect those prior to the 1967 Middle East conflict.


"The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine," Obama stated in what the White House deemed a major speech.


“The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states,” the president continued in the 45-minute address.


Obama chastised Israel’s insistence on building housing settlements in the West Bank, regarded by many in the international community as one of the main obstacles to Middle East peace.


"The status quo is unsustainable, and Israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace," he said. “The dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation."


However, Obama declared the U.S. policy on Israeli security to be essential.


"Provisions must also be robust enough to prevent a resurgence of terrorism; to stop the infiltration of weapons; and to provide effective border security. The full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-militarized state. And the duration of this transition period must be agreed, and the effectiveness of security arrangements must be demonstrated," Obama continued.


Reaction to the speech has been mixed. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is said to have initially rejected the parameters of the speech. Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas apparently called an “urgent meeting” of Palestinian leaders.


Obama stated that a fundamental shift in U.S. policy must transpire, lest the divide with the Arab world grow ever more expansive.


"A failure to change our approach threatens a deepening spiral of division between the United States and the Arab world," Obama said

Related articles: (President Barack Obama, Obama, Middle East, Obama speech)
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