Israel Welcomes Obama Speech

The Israeli government has welcomed Barack Obama’s speech to the Muslim world, saying it hoped the speech would bring a "new period of reconciliation" in the Middle East.

The government statement made no mention of the issue of settlements, after the US president used his speech in Cairo to reiterate his call for an end to Israeli construction on Palestinian land.

"We share President Obama’s hope that the American effort heralds the opening of a new era that will bring an end to the conflict and to general Arab recognition of Israel as the nation of the Jewish people that lives in security and peace in the Middle East," the statement said.

"Israel is committed to peace and will do all it can to expand the circle of peace while considering its national interests, first and foremost being security," it said on Thursday after Obama’s address.

Obama devoted a large portion of his speech to the issue of Israel and the Palestinian, and it comes amid reports of deepening differences between the US and Israel on the expansion of settlements.

The US president restated Washington’s strong ties with Israel, calling on Muslims to recognize the Holocaust.

But Obama also used the term "Palestine", as he reiterated his call for a Palestinian state.

Danny Seaman, the director of Israel’s Government Press Office, said the government backed Obama’s message.

"All in all, it’s not bad. I don’t think there’s anything we disagree with here," he said.

"The state of Israel isn’t against reconciliation," he added, but warned against any moves that could "be used by the extremists to endanger Israel and endanger the peace process".

But Aliza Herbst, a 56-year-old resident of the West Bank settlement of Ofra, said Obama’s "naivety can be dangerous".

"You can have your speechwriters find every good thing a Muslim has ever done. But more modern history is that the Muslim world is at war with the Western world," she told the Associated Press news agency.

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