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Jun 04, 2009 at 09:15pm IST

Palestinians praise Obama's speech

Jerusalem: President Barack Obama's historic speech to the Muslim world evoked mixed response in the Middle East with the Palestinian Authority describing it as a "good start" but right-wing Israelis slammed it and asked Tel Aviv's leadership to stay defiant amid calls to halt settlements.

In his speech aimed at healing rifts between the US and the Muslim world, Obama said, "Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine's."

The US President also issued a scathing criticism of Israel's settlement activities in the West Bank, saying "the US does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements... It is time for these settlements to stop."

CONNECTING PEOPLE: Barack Obama during his speech at Cairo University, Thursday, June 4, 2009.

"His call for stopping settlement and for the establishment of a Palestinian state, and his reference to the suffering of Palestinians... is a clear message to Israel that a just peace is built on the foundations of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital," an aide to PA President Mahmoud Abbas said.

"President Obama's speech is a good start and an important step towards a new American policy," said Nabil Abu

Rdeineh, who normally views Abbas' opinion to the public. The Israeli right wings, however, condemned Obama's warming up to the Islamic world and asked the Jewish state's leadership to stay defiant on the issue of settlements.