Palestinians, Israel Call Obama's Speech Shortsighted
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
Neither Israelis nor Palestinians were happy with everything President Obama said yesterday. And today, we have reactions to the president's speech from three locations in the Middle East.
SHEERA FRENKEL: President Obama's speech aired at full length on both Israeli and Palestinian prime-time news. Just minutes after he had stepped off the podium, officials on both sides took issue with the president for parts of his speech, each expressing disappointment that he didnt go further.
[POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: The United Nations has not designated any borders for a future Palestinian state, and President Obama said the area of a Palestinian state should be "based" on the 1967 boundary lines, with land swaps mutually agreed by Israel and the Palestinians.]
In the West Bank, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he was calling an emergency meeting of his cabinet. He acknowledged that Palestinians had won a major victory, with the U.S. president acknowledging the 1967, or U.N.-designated border, as the lines of a future state.
But Saeb Erekat, a Palestinian official intimately involved with negotiations, said those borders have been the basis for talks for years. He said it was a major blow that Obama rejected their bid in the U.N. to get a state approved on 1967 lines, and that Israel announced the building of 620 new housing units in West Bank settlements Thursday.
In Gaza, Dr. Ehab Bisiso, a political analyst, summed up the Palestinian sentiment.
Dr. EHAB BISISO (Political Analyst): I think it was very disappointing for many Palestinians. On one hand, he emphasized on a Palestinian state. However, he didn't initiate any progress with the Palestinian state.
[POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: Benjamin Netanyahu is prime minister of Israel, not president.]
FRENKEL: Israel, meanwhile, celebrated Obama's strong support of its position in the planned U.N. vote on Palestinian statehood. Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu delayed his flight to Washington for Obama's speech. He immediately rejected withdrawing to 1967 borders, calling them indefensible.
On Friday, Netanyahu and Obama will meet before the Israeli prime minister gives an address to Congress next week. Speaking on Israeli television, Cabinet Minister Gilad Erdan, a close ally of Netanyahu, said he would make a strong statement in the U.S.
Mr. GILAD ERDAN (Israel Cabinet Minister): (Foreign language spoken)
FRENKEL: Israel won its immediate goal of seeing the Palestinians' U.N. bid dismissed, said Erdan. He added that more victories would come after Netanyahu's visit to D.C.
For NPR News, Im Sheera Frenkel in Jerusalem
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Correction June 7, 2011
Our story incorrectly referred to Benjamin Netanyahu as the president of Israel. He is actually the prime minister. In addition, we referred to "the U.S. president [Obama] acknowledging the 1967, U.N.-designated border as the lines of a future [Palestinian] state." The United Nations has not designated any borders for a future Palestinian state, and President Obama said the area of a Palestinian state should be "based" on the 1967 boundary lines, with land swaps mutually agreed by Israel and the Palestinians.