In his speech in Cairo the US president Barack Obama spoke of “Palestine” as if it was about to be a country with a secure place on the map. He urged the Palestinians to achieve their goal of dignity and statehood through non-violent means. Most crucially, he declared that Israeli settlements on occupied land must stop.
Looking back on that speech after the events of the past week underlines the gap between word and deed. For all his promises to rein in Israel and devote himself to achieving Palestinian statehood, the US has been almost the only country not to condemn the Israeli commando raid on the Free Gaza Movement flotilla. The US still says only that it “regrets the loss of life”. These thin words are more inflammatory for the Islamic world than the raid itself.