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WEST BANK: Palestinians denounce Obama's U.N. speech

September 22, 2011 | 10:41 am

Palestinian stone throwers

REPORTING FROM RAMALLAH, WEST BANK -- It did not take Palestinians long after President Obama finished the section of his United Nations General Assembly speech on their conflict with Israel to turn off their TVs and turn to issuing statements of disappointment, criticism and condemnation of the speech.

While Palestinians in general were expecting to hear what they considered a bad speech in light of the strong U.S. opposition to their efforts to win U.N. membership for their still-unborn state, they did not expect it to be that bad.

“Obama went back on all the moral principles he once stood for that rallied the entire world behind him when he was elected president,” said Saleh Rafat, member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee, addressing crowds who gathered in Ramallah on Thursday to protest Obama’s speech.

“Obama, don’t make of our misery material for your reelection campaign,” said a sign raised by a high school student at the demonstration.

Rafat’s words were only a drop in a sea of Palestinian criticism of Obama’s speech. Not a single Palestinian seems to have found anything good to say about it.

“When I was listening to Obama, I thought it was listening to [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu speaking to the U.S. Congress,” said Mustafa Barghouti, head of the Palestinian National Initiative.

“If Obama wants to champion freedoms of people around the world, he ought to stand by the Palestinian people who are fighting occupation, repression and racial discrimination and who are fighting to win freedom and independence,” said Tawfik Tirawi, a former Palestinian Authority security official and member of Fatah’s Central Committee.

By asking for U.N. recognition and membership, Palestinians are indicating that they have lost confidence that the U.S. can persuade Israel to agree to a statehood arrangement after years of sporadic and acrimonious negotiations.


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Photo: Palestinian youths hurl stones on Thursday toward Israel soldiers at a checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah. Credit: Menahem Kahana / AFP/Getty Images