Israel wary of focus of Obama's speech

Sunday, June 07, 2009 |  Israel Today Staff

Israeli officials cited across the Israeli media at the weekend responded cautiously to US President Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo last Thursday.

While some expressed satisfaction at the degree of reciprocity present in the speech, and hoped it would translate into action, most were unhappy that Obama had focused so heavily on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and all but declared the lack of a Palestinian state the key component of the region’s problems.

One official who spoke to The Jerusalem Post noted that Iran’s nuclear program is clearly the most pressing regional issue, but lamented that Obama is going to instead put his weight behind a premature Israeli-Arab peace deal because he has an overriding need to make nice with the Muslim world.

A day before the speech, Israel’s Yediot Ahronot newspaper released the results of its monthly “Peace Index” survey showing that a wide majority of Israelis do not trust Obama to look out for their interests when overseeing the negotiations, and feel that he is very clearly siding with the Arabs.

Across the Arab world, reaction to Obama’s speech was mixed, though most major newspaper editorials agreed that there had been a clear shift in America’s outlook, and that Washington’s new positions clearly favored the Arabs in their conflict with Israel.

Many editorials, however, said that a wait-and-see approach should be adopted as the declarations of most US presidents regarding peace in the region have typically failed to backed up by firm action.

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