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Brokering the terms for peace in the Middle East

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Brokering the terms for peace in the Middle East

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On June 4 the US President Barack Obama made his landmark speech to the Muslim world. In it, he pressed Israel to accept a two state solution for peace and called for an end to the building of Israeli settlements.

“So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own,’‘ said the American president. “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements,’‘ he added. Now, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has given his response. He accepted the creation of a Palestinian state, but only under the condition it is demilitarised. Palestinians would also have to recognise Israel’s right to exist with Jerusalem as its undisputed capital. Netanyahu did not budge on America’s other demand to stop the expansion of settlements in the West Bank. He said Israel would allow construction in existing areas in what he called ‘natural growth’. In the West Bank’s capital Ramallah, many Palestinians rejected Netanyahu’s offer. “It’s like a thief who wants you to recognise all that he stole without anything in return. That’s it. There is no law in the world except for those who are strong,’‘ one Palestinian man said. “We refuse it because it does not give us what we want. We want the return of the refugees, the right of return, we want Jerusalem to be ours,’‘ another Palestinian woman said. Netanyahu also said Palestinians should give up their demand for the return of refugees expelled in 1948, arguing they should be resettled outside Israel.