Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

‘The situation for the Palestinians is intolerable’

Israelis and Palestinians must find a way to live side by side, peacefully as two independent states, President Obama said in his speech, arguing that this solution ultimately was the only way to end bloodshed and violence.

He recognised the long US alliance with Israel but he also said “the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable.”

He said America would support any efforts by any parties that recognise the legitimate aspirations of both the Israelis and the Palestinians. He added that the “United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.”

And he called on Palestinians, particularly the Hamas faction, to “abandon violence” and recognise Israel’s right to exist.

l Mr Obama’s speech was laced with references to the Koran and his Muslim roots.

He quoted the Holy Koran as commanding, “Be conscious of God and speak always the truth.” He said he shared that conviction. The President noted that while he is a Christian, his father had come from a Kenyan family that “includes generations of Muslims.”

He pointed to a Muslim, Keith Ellison, as the first to be elected to Congress, saying he took the oath on the Koran that Thomas Jefferson had kept in his personal library.”

Mr Obama also quoted from the Bible and the Jewish Talmud in making his argument for better relations between the US and the Muslim world.

l Mr Obama said the United States will proceed with courage, rectitude and resolve when dealing with Iran.

He acknowledged the US role in overthrowing the democratically elected Iranian government during the last century and said it would be difficult to overcome decades of mistrust.

But he said he has made clear to Iran’s leaders that he wants to build a future together.

Mr Obama said the United States was willing to move forward with mutual respect and without preconditions and that approach would prevent a nuclear arms race in the region.

He said no single nation should decide which countries have nuclear weapons.

l The United States has no intention of keeping its troops in Afghanistan and America seeks no permanent military bases there, Mr Obama said.

He called it costly and politically difficult to continue the conflict, but said there were still violent extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan determined to kill Americans.

He stressed that the US would not weaken its commitment to rooting out terrorists.

l President Obama said women should have the right to choose whether they want to be equal with men.

He said he did not believe that women must make the same choices as men in order to be equal. And he said he respects women who choose traditional roles, but women should have that choice.

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