US President Barack Obama on Monday brushed aside harsh Arab criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s peace policy speech as “predicable.”
“I think it's important not to immediately assess the situation based on commentary the day after a speech,” Obama told reporters less than two weeks after his aides enthusiastically distributed Arab responses to his own policy speech in Cairo.
Obama claimed that similar negative knee-jerk responses are heard out of Israel every time an Arab leader makes a policy speech that mentions the Jewish state. Of course, the policy speeches that come out of Arab capitals are usually openly hostile toward Israel, whereas Netanyahu was extending a hand of peace, albeit cautiously.
The president went on to say that he sees Netanyahu’s speech as a chance to start serious final status peace talks, and expects the Arabs to join in.
Following Netanyahu’s speech, Obama praised the Israeli leader’s belated acceptance of a Palestinian state, revealing that he had only heard those parts of the address he had wanted to hear.