On both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the US President’s speech was closely followed.
For Barack Obama, each of the two peoples have a “painful history” and “legitimate aspirations.” Palestinians had to abandon violence, he said, urging them to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist. But that is not in the interests of Gaza said one man now living in a tent after Israel’s recent offensive. “Someone like me, whose home was destroyed. How could I do that?” he asked. While Gaza is run by the militant Islamic movement Hamas, the West Bank is the territory of more moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. His administration welcomed the speech as a “good start.” A Palestinian woman in Hebron, in the West Bank, said she hopes Obama’s intervention will be good news for all Muslims, adding “May God make him better than his predecessor.” Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israeli government said it shared Obama’s hopes for peace, with no mention of his demand for a freeze on settlements. From the West Bank Jewish settlement of Ofra, one settler sent a clear message: the president has gone too far. “I believe Obama has overreached himself,” said Aliza Herbest. “I don’t believe he can enforce what he would like to enforce. I think that just as he says that governments have to listen to the will of their people, that the Israeli government has to listen to the will of the Israeli people and that has to be first and foremost in their minds and the election we just had recently was an extremely clear voice of the will of the Israeli people.” President Obama said one thing nearly everyone in the Middle East would agree with. “Too many tears have flowed. Too much blood has been shed.”