Obama was bold

There has been something surreal about the past week's speechmaking in the US by the Israeli Prime Minister and the US President. And not simply the fact of each of them making two key Middle East speeches in so short a space of time.

What has been truly bizarre has been the reaction. Mr Netanyahu's address to Congress was, above all, an honour for Israel. Let there be no point-scoring by those who take a different view to Mr Netanyahu about the issues -- it was a personal triumph, too, and a statesmanlike performance. Unlike, it has to be said, his own reaction to President Obama's first speech.

On the key issues, Mr Obama was as hawkish as any Likudnik. He lambasted Hamas. He was bold on the futility of any delegitimisation strategy. He was dismissive of the plan for a Palestinian declaration of statehood. And he was firm on the importance of recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Yet his speech has been attacked for supposedly "throwing Israel under a bus". All because he said a deal would have to start from negotiations on the 1967 borders. But this has been US policy, de facto and de jure, for many years. And Mr Obama went out of his way to say that any border decisions must be "mutually agreed."

It is difficult to imagine what more any US President could do than offer Israel its wish list.

    Last updated: 11:12am, May 26 2011