Thursday, June 4, 2009

Obama delivers strong attack on Israeli settlements in speech to Muslim world

Barack Obama today delivered one of the strongest condemnations by an American president of Israeli settlement building as he appealed for a fresh start between the US and the Islamic world.

In an audacious address at Cairo university to a worldwide audience of 1.5 billion Muslims, Mr Obama told the Israeli government that continuing to construct new Jewish homes in the occupied Palestinian territories was unacceptable and must stop.

Mr Obama went further than any US President in recent memory in conceding that America had sometimes been wrong, citing past policies towards Iran and recent reactions after 9/11. He implied that the invasion of Iraq had been a mistake.

He also made thinly veiled criticisms of the authoritarian regimes in Middle Eastern countries to which America has in the past appeared uncritically supportive.

But perhaps his toughest words, and one of the most warmly received sections of the speech, were his rebuke for Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, who has refused to halt West Bank settlement expansion.

"The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements," said Mr Obama.

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