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Israel papers: new era in US ties

An ultra-Orthodox Jew watches President Barack Obama"s speech on television screens at a shopping center in Jerusalem
Israelis react to Obama's speech with "mixed feelings"

Commentators in Israeli papers interpreted US President Barack Obama's address to the Muslim world as marking a clear shift in ties between the US and Israel, and possibly the end of a special relationship.

One writer called on the Israeli government to adapt to the new winds blowing from Washington or face a storm, while several said the US president had given the government notice that it would now have to honour commitments made towards reaching peace with the Palestinians.

At least one interpreted this as meaning that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would have to reshape his cabinet.

Several writers referred respectfully to the US leader and saw his words in a positive light, while others were disparaging. One saw him as a sycophant.

Commentary by Eitan Haber in Yediot Aharonot

The speech was balanced but this is exactly the problem… For light years we were spoilt by the lack of US balance in our favour… The speech yesterday is the beginning of a "new countdown" in the relations between Washington and Jerusalem. It seems there will be no intimacy in the relations, that intimacy that granted Israel and its leaders a unique, special status among the leaders and nations of the world.

Commentary by Yoaz Hendel in Yediot Aharonot

Only over one evil the new American prophet weeps - the settlements … What is left as an obstacle to peace, according to Obama, are those settlers… They are the ones responsible for the Israeli-Arab conflict… Had we not been witnesses to the result of the dismantling of the settlements in Gaza, someone in Israel still could believe that this is right.

Commentary by Nahum Barnea and Smadar Peri in Yediot Aharonot

Obama's speech was intended as a war instrument against one enemy - Islamic extremism… It is impossible not to appreciate a president who opens his term with an intensive effort to promote solution of the problem under which Israel has laboured since its creation… He is not naive. He knows that a long time will pass until the achievement of peace - if at all. Yesterday he crossed the start line.

Commentary by Orly Azoulay in Ynetnews.com

The proposal placed on the table by Barack Obama in Cairo is one that Israel would not be able to refuse… Obama is timing Netanyahu, while expecting him to voluntarily connect to the new winds blowing from Washington, before he is forced to contend with a storm.

Attila Somfalvi in Ynetnews.com

Obama left no room for doubt: The United States supports Israel, yet the era of trickery, promises, and the gradual annexation in Judea and Samaria is over. The time has come for action; the time has come for moving towards a resolution of the Palestinian problem… Barack Obama's speech was meant to make it clear to Netanyahu who the master of the house is.

Commentary by Yo'el Marcus in Ha'aretz

Today, 5 June, 42 years after the Six-Day War, the time has come to respond to the question posed by President Lyndon Johnson to Prime Minister Levi Eshkol: What kind of Israel do you people want? Yesterday, Obama made it clear what the answer should be, and that we should view his sycophantic speech in Cairo as a true alarm.

Editorial in Ha'aretz

It was not only before Islam and the West, but also, perhaps mostly, before Israel, the Palestinians and the Arabs that an opportunity for a new beginning was laid out in Cairo yesterday… The government of Israel, like that of the Palestinians, has no right to ignore this opportunity and place it in the drawer alongside all the other missed opportunities. The price of missing out will not be measured in the quality of relations with Washington, but in human lives.

Yossi Verter in Ha'aretz

The moment of political reckoning that he [Binyamin Netanyahu] so feared is now rapidly approaching… Netanyahu will have to decide over the coming weeks who he would rather pick a fight with: the powerful US administration or his own coalition and members of his party… If he aligns himself with the coalition, he will keep his job but risk isolating Israel.

Gideon Levy in Ha'aretz

Only the Israeli analysts tried to diminish the speech's importance ("not terrible"), to spread fear ("he mentioned the Holocaust and the Nakba in a single breath"), or were insulted on our behalf ("he did not mention our right to the land as promised in the Bible"). All these were redundant and unnecessary. Obama emerged on Thursday as a true friend of Israel.

Commentary by Ben Kaspit in Ma'ariv

Bush's work tools were the aircraft carriers. Obama's work tools, at this stage, are his conquering personality, sweeping charisma and reconciled diplomacy… Netanyahu will have to decide soon. It is either "Yes" or "No" to Obama… If Netanyahu wants to go with the president, enter history and give peace a chance, he will have to change his government's composition.

Commentary by settler Benny Katzover in Ma'ariv

Obama reiterated his wish to establish two states for two peoples. Balance and equality between Jews and Arabs as it were. But Obama "forgot" that in the Jewish state there are more than a million [Israeli] Arabs who enjoy democratic rights unknown to their brothers in Arab countries. No one stops them from building… But for us Jews in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] it is forbidden to live, build or to buy land. Obama, who is supposed to be sensitive to racism, has turned himself into a racist.

Editorial in Jerusalem Post

It was with mixed feelings that we watched President Barack Obama deliver his extraordinary speech to the Muslim and Arab worlds in Cairo yesterday. Critics will see the speech as incredibly naive… Obama didn't really need to tell Israelis to acknowledge "Palestine's" right to exist since every government since Yitzhak Rabin's has been explicit that the Jewish state does not want to rule over another people. The real question is whether a violently fragmented Palestinian polity is capable of making the necessary compromises required to close a deal.

BBC Monitoringselects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.



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