Middle East

Mid-East media lukewarm on Obama speech

Barack Obama delivers a speech on Mideast and North Africa policy 19 May 2011
Image caption Obama said the basis of the peace negotiations was to create "a viable Palestine, and a secure Israel"

US President Barack Obama's speech focusing on the Middle East was met with little enthusiasm by commentators in the region's media.

While his statement of support for a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders with Israel was welcomed by at least one Palestinian writer, Israeli papers saw it as a big knock-back for their country - and their prime minister.

Some Israeli commentaries welcomed Mr Obama's criticism of the current Palestinian quest for statehood, and of the militant movement Hamas. One writer felt relieved: ''The United States is sticking with Israel.''

Mr Obama's expression of support for popular uprisings in the Middle East, meanwhile, was derided in some of the establishment media, including in Iran and Saudi Arabia. One Syrian commentator scoffed that the US president ''speaks under the banner of democracy without knowing the meaning of the word".

Shimon Schiffer in Israel's Yediot Aharonot

Only 24 hours before his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu President Obama decided to forgo manners and landed a real blow on him: Israel must withdraw to the '67 borders - with agreed territorial swaps. Nothing can ease the bitter taste of the pill Obama presented to Israel's prime minister.

Alon Pinkus in Israel's Ma'ariv

Since 1967 Israel has feared the day when a US president would utter the combination 1-9-6-7 and attach them to horror-arousing idea called 'Palestinian state'. Yesterday, 44 years less two weeks, after the 1967 Six Day War, a US president rose and said what most of the Israelis know, understand and some of them accept, but out of denial they refused to hear: 1967… Netanyahu could have nurtured his relations with Obama and spared himself both this speech and the Palestinian intention to declare statehood at the UN in September.

Editorial in Israel's Jerusalem Post

A positive point in Obama's speech was his recognition of the 'bad guy' in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He wondered how Israel was to conduct negotiations with a Palestinian leadership that included Hamas in its national unity government, as long as the terrorist organization was bent on Israel's destruction.

Gideon Levy in Israel's Ha'aretz

Yesterday, the US president demolished the Palestinian's only accomplishment so far - the wave of international support for recognition of statehood in September. September died last night. After America, Europe too will have to withdraw its support; hopes have ended for a historically significant declaration at the United Nations. The Palestinians are left once again with Cuba and Brazil, while we get to keep America. Here's another reason for a sigh of relief in Jerusalem: No diplomatic tsunami is forthcoming, the United States is sticking with Israel.

Editorial in Palestinian Al-Quds

Surely, the speech made by US President Barack Obama, in which he clarified that the future Palestinian state will be established within the 1967 borders, is a positive step which the Palestinian people welcome. They have been waiting for it in the past few months since the suspension of direct negotiations with the Israeli side.

Editorial in Syria's Al-Thawra

He speaks under the banner of democracy without knowing the meaning of the word… He didn't forget his arrogance in telling a sovereign country what to do... and threatening to isolate this country if it fails to do as it is told.

Editorial in Saudi Arabia's Arab News

Two years ago, President Barack Obama reached out to the Muslim world in Cairo, promising a new beginning to America's relationship with it. The Muslim world responded enthusiastically… But over the following months it became clear that there was nothing to reach out and grab… The American president has been at it again. Yesterday he offered a second keynote speech to the region, this time specifically - apparently - for Arab ears. Again, there were fine, noble words. He might as well have been speaking in a soundproof box. The only people who were listening were the Americans and the West. Even before he opened his mouth, Arabs were in no mood to trust him or believe in him.

Abd-al-Bari Atwan in London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi

The primary common denominator between US President Barack Obama and most Arab leaders is not only making long speeches but speeches based primarily on oratory with few new positions.

Commentary on Iranian state radio

Obama could not manoeuvre over Iran this time as he had done in the past. He only stated the repeated claim that Iran supports resistance movements in the region such as Hamas and Hezbollah, which is a source of pride in Iran's foreign policy.

Editorial in Qatar's Al-Rayah

A new relationship between the USA and the Arab and Islamic worlds can be achieved by fulfilling the US pledge to establish an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital and to end the Israeli occupation that have weighed heavily on the Palestinian people and the region for long decades.

Ubaydali al-Ubaydali in Bahrain's Al-Wasat

The fact that the president of the super power tackled the situation in Bahrain in a strategic speech on the Middle East indicates Bahrain's strategic status… This puts a historic responsibility on the two sides of the equation in the Bahraini political street; the executive and the opposition. Since the message focused on the importance of dialogue at this stage, it is expected that both sides will heed this call.

Cengiz Candar in Turkey's Radikal

US President Obama has … has put the rope around the neck of the Syrian leader and has indicated that he will continue to tighten it.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.

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