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Obama's stern words for the Middle East

Mark Mardell | 14:39 UK time, Thursday, 23 September 2010

President Barack Obama is planning to give supporters of the Palestinians a bit of a talking to, at the UN today.

He says pessimists and cynics can scoff at the difficulties of the current peace talks but if an agreement is not reached, the Palestinians will never know the pride and dignity of having their own state, and Israel won't know safety and security.

But there's frustration with Arab States in the Middle East, who the White House believes pay extravagant emotional lip service to the Palestinian cause but very little practical or diplomatic help.

"Many in this hall count themselves as friends of the Palestinians. But these pledges must now be supported by deeds. Those who have signed on to the Arab Peace Initiative should seize this opportunity to make it real by describing and demonstrating the normalisation that it promises Israel. Those who speak out for Palestinian self-government should help the Palestinian Authority with political and financial support, and - in so doing - help the Palestinians build the institutions of their state. And those who long to see an independent Palestine rise must stop trying to tear Israel down."

And he will go on:

"After thousands of years, Jews and Arabs are not strangers in a strange land. And after 60 years in the community of nations, Israel's existence must not be a subject for debate. Israel is a sovereign state, and the historic homeland of the Jewish people. It should be clear to all that efforts to chip away at Israel's legitimacy will only be met by the unshakeable opposition of the United States. And efforts to threaten or kill Israelis will do nothing to help the Palestinian people - the slaughter of innocent Israelis is not resistance, it is injustice. Make no mistake: the courage of a man like President Abbas - who stands up for his people in front of the world - is far greater than those who fire rockets at innocent women and children."

Not yet sure if this is the real guts of his speech or there will be more on other subjects like Iran. More later.


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