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Obama stand at UN shows support for Israel

US President Barack Obama delivered his clearest statement of support and sympathy for Israel on Wednesday in a speech that rejected the Palestinians' bid to have the United Nations recognise their statehood.

world Updated: Sep 23, 2011 01:20 IST

US President Barack Obama delivered his clearest statement of support and sympathy for Israel on Wednesday in a speech that rejected the Palestinians' bid to have the United Nations recognise their statehood.

Obama's address to a hushed UN General Assembly drew strong support from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who called the president's opposition to the Palestinian diplomatic effort a "badge of honour."

At a time when he is facing fierce criticism from Republican presidential candidates over his past treatment of Israel, Obama evoked the horrors of the Holocaust to describe the Jewish state's tenuous security position and made no mention of Israel's construction of settlements on land the Palestinians envision as their future state.

Obama's speech marked a retreat from his early ambitions to help broker an enduring peace in the West Asia, as well as a step back from his call from the same podium a year ago for the creation of a Palestinian state by this session of the General Assembly.

Early in his presidency, Obama called Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank "illegitimate," drawing criticism from Israel and its American supporters. Those sentiments were absent Wednesday, with 14 months to go before voters decide whether to give him a second term.

"What he's said comes out of his background; what he's actually done has come out of the political realities of this country," said Rashid Khalidi, the Palestinian American scholar.

Despite Obama's argument, Palestinian officials said on Wednesday that Abbas will submit the Palestinian membership application to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon later this week.

(In exclusive partnership with, The Washington Post)