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Arabs 'Upset' at Obama Speech, Angry Protests Expected

The “Arab street” is extremely upset at U.S. President Barack H. Obama, and intends to show its anger on Friday.
By David Lev
First Publish: 9/22/2011, 9:39 AM

The “Arab street” is extremely upset at U.S. President Barack H. Obama after he called for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and for his references to Israel as the “historic homeland” of the Jewish people. As a result, Arab youth in the entire Muslim world plan to show their anger at mass protests on Friday, the PA's Ma'an news agency reported.

On Friday, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas plans to ask the U.N. Security Council to recognize an Arab state in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. Israel is prepared for major unrest, as Arabs in PA cities plan to rally and celebrate, although the PA has said that they will ensure that the rallies remain peaceful, and that Arab mobs do not attack nearby Jewish towns.

But the Ma'an news story could mean that things may indeed get out of hand. According to the report, millions of Arabs will protest in Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia, and Libya, in support of the PA's statehood bid. Arab youth, the report said, are especially disappointed in Obama's apparent embracing of Israel's position that the border must be the result of negotiations, which means that he does not intend to impose on Israel a withdrawal to the 1948 armistice lines, as he had outlined in previous speeches.

In the speech, Obama praised the “Arab Spring” revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, as well as the ejection of Muammar Qaddafi from Libya. Top PA negotiator Yasser Abed Rabbo said that PA Arabs were also “very disappointed” in Obama's call for negotiations with Israel, as contrasted with his praise for the Arab uprisings. “We expected to hear that the freedom of the Palestinian people was the key for the Arab Spring,” he said.

A news report in Cairo said that groups that participated in the demonstrations that unseated Hosni Mubarak will announce later Thursday another “million man march” in Tahrir Square in support of the PA. Meanwhile, unions and student groups in PA-controlled cities in Judea and Samaria were planning strikes and other actions in protest of Obama's speech.