White House: Obama Will Not Unveil Peace Initiative in Cairo

By Haaretz Service

Published May 22, 2009.

The White House announced on Friday that U.S. President Barack Obama will not be presenting an American initiative for peace in the Middle East during his speech in Cairo on June 4, Israel Radio reported.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that Obama’s speech would address Washington’s relationship with Muslims worldwide.

“This will be a broader speech about our relationship with Muslims around the world,” said Gibbs at the daily press briefing. “I know there has been some conjecture that included in this speech will be some detailed comprehensive Mideast peace plan, and that is not the intention nor was it ever the intention of this speech.” Gibbs noted that Obama could not address the Muslim world without referring to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but added that the speech would not focus on it.

When asked about Obama’s stance on Jerusalem, Gibbs said, “Those are final status issues that the parties themselves have agreed to work out in whatever negotiation would be had. That’s not something for the President to intone.”

Following Obama’s meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, various media reports had speculated that Obama would unveil a new U.S. initiative for achieving peace in the Middle East as part of his upcoming speech meant to improve relations with the Muslim world.

American officials earlier this week had said that the U.S. expects Israel to make concrete concessions to the Palestinians before Obama’s visit to Cairo.

Israeli security forces on Thursday morning evacuated the West Bank settlement outpost of Maoz Esther, in an apparent nod to diplomatic pressure exerted by the Obama administration.

Security forces hauled away seven metal containers converted to cabins during the evacuation. Several youths were at the camp but there was no violence, said police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld.

Obama and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have both stressed that achieving peace in the Middle East would be a top priority for their administration. Both have stressed that they are committed to a two-state solution, with Israeli and Palestinian states living side by side.



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