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In his speech at Cairo University, U.S. President Barack Obama addressed one of the major sources of tension between the United States and many in the Middle-East – the situation between Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world.
America's strong bond with Israel is unbreakable, said President Obama. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history.
"The Jewish people were persecuted for centuries", said President Obama, "and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust in which 6 million Jews perished:"
"Denying that fact is baseless, it is ignorant, and it is hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction -- or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews -- is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve."
"On the other hand," said President Obama, "it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people ... have suffered in pursuit of a homeland:"
"For more than 60 years they've endured the pain of dislocation. The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. And America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own."
Only through the creation of 2 states can the aspirations of both sides be met, said Mr. Obama. For peace to come, all sides must meet their responsibilities:
"The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people. Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, recognize Israel's right to exist."
At the same time, said Mr. Obama, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine's. Israel must stop construction of settlements on Palestinian territory, recognize that the humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel’s security, and take concrete steps to enable progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people.
Finally, said President Obama, the Arab states must help the Palestinian people develop the institutions that will sustain their state, and to recognize Israel's legitimacy.
"All of us," said President Obama, "have a responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians can see their children grow up without fear."