Hamas, a Palestinian Islamic socio-political and paramilitary organization that controls the Gaza Strip, have described President Obama’s speech: “A New Beginning: US and the Muslim World,” in Egypt as a promise of tangible change. Hamas has governed the Gaza portion of the Palestinian territories since 2007.
The miliitant group expressed hope in the Middle East after Mr Obama associated the state of the Palestinians with that of slaves in America. But Mr Obama accepted that no single speech can eradicate years of mistrust.
Obama arrived in Egypt from a visit to Saudi Arabia and received a standing ovation at the end of his speech at Cairo University in Egypt, where he spoke about Iranian nuclear weapon, middle-eastern peace, and women’s right in Muslim states and creating better understanding, truth and respect amongst Muslims and non-Muslims. White House officials said the speech was intended to start a process to re-energise the dialogue with the Muslim world.
Prior to Mr. Obama’s speech, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had delivered his own speech, saying the US was still deeply hated in the Middle East. But Mr. Obama responded by saying that: “I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect.” The president also gingered some inspiration when he said: “The dream of opportunity for all people has not come true for everyone in America, but its promise exists for all who come to our shores – that includes nearly seven million American Muslims.”
Mr Obama said that no single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons. Iran has the right to peaceful nuclear power. But there should be no nuclear arms race in the Middle East. He also admitted there had been years of distrust amongst the US and the Muslim world: Both sides need to make a sustained effort to respect one another and seek common ground.
Speaking on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, Mr Obama said the bond with Israel was unbreakable, but the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable.” He said that the Palestinians must first abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong. Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel’s right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine’s.
On January 25, 2006, Hamas won the legislative elecions held in the Palestinian Territories, gaining the majority seats in the Palestinian parliment. This further complicated matters in the Isreali-Palestinian conflicts as it is considered as a terrorist organization by certain countries and supranational organizations.