A wave of defiance is building up in the Arab world against the address by the President of the United States, Barack Obama, in the United Nations, where he rejected the anticipated Palestinian bid for a formal international recognition as an independent State by the world body.
In the West Bank city of Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian authority, dozens of protesters slammed Mr. Obama for his rejection in the U.N. of the much expected Palestinian gambit for formal independence. Some of the protesters held signs which castigated Mr. Obama as “the hypocrite”. Others blamed the U.S. President for siding "with killers against victims".
But the impact of Mr. Obama’s address was beginning to be felt far beyond Ramallah. The Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram reported on its website that preparations were underway across the region for a wave of protests.
On Friday, demonstrations in support of Palestinian recognition by the U.N. are expected in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya-three countries which have epitomised the pro-democracy movement that has been sweeping across the Arab world. The activists are expected to reject Mr. Obama’s address during the planned protests. Analysts say that these protests are likely to neutralise the positive impact in the region that had been created by Mr. Obama’s address at Cairo University in June 2009.
An opinion poll by conducted by GlobeScan for BBC World Service, has revealed that 90 per cent of the Egyptians support Palestinian recognition. Respondents also expressed strong backing for the Palestinians in Turkey, Indonesia and China.
During his address on Wednesday, Mr. Obama said that peace would not be achieved “through statements and resolutions at the U.N.” He added: “If it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now.”
Calling for direct negotiations, Mr. Obama said: “We will only succeed in that effort if we can encourage the parties to sit down together, to listen to each other and to understand each other’s hopes and fears. That is the project to which America is committed, and that is what the United Nations should be focused on in the weeks and months to come.”
Later during a meeting with the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, Mr. Obama said the U.S. would veto any U.N. resolution recognising an independent Palestinian State. "We would have to oppose any action at the U.N. Security Council including, if necessary, vetoing," said Ben Rhodes, the White House national security council spokesman, after the two leaders had met in New York.