Obama to Middle East: Israel diversion will not work

President Obama during his speech

President Obama during his speech

President Obama has vowed that America will continue to stand up for Israel and seek peace between Israel and the Arab world.

Speaking during his eagerly-anticipated address on the direction of his Middle East policy, the President said that the US would "keep our commitments to friends and partners".

He said: "We will continue to do these things, with the firm belief that America’s interests are not hostile to peoples’ hopes; they are essential to them.

"We believe that no one benefits from a nuclear arms race in the region, or al-Qaida’s brutal attacks."

President Obama also said that in the repressive Middle East, "antagonism for Israel" had become the only acceptable outlet for political expression.

But he warned leaders: "Strategies of oppression and diversion will not work."

In a wide-reaching speech, he said the US would both promote reform across the region, and support transitions towards democracy.

He also condemned Libya and Syria for choosing "the path of murder".

But the president added: "Our message is simple: if you take the risks that reform entails, you will have the full support of the United States."

Last updated: 4:29pm, May 19 2011