CAIRO: A number of opposition groups and activists criticized US President Barack Obama’s stance towards the Israeli raid on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla.
In an interview with CNN Thursday evening, Obama did not denounce the attack, only describing it as a “tragic” incident.
"I think what’s important right now is that we break out of the current impasse, use this tragedy as an opportunity to figure out how we can meet Israel’s security concerns,” he told TV host Larry King.
“Obama’s statements came one year after his famous speech at Cairo University. I believe that his promises back then have evaporated,” General Coordinator of the Kefaya Movement for Change, Abdel-Halim Qandil told Daily News Egypt.
In response to King’s question whether it was “premature to condemn Israel,” Obama said, “It is…premature to say to the Israelis and to the Palestinians and…to all parties in the region that the status quo is unsustainable.”
Obama added that Israel’s neighbors had to recognize its “legitimate security concerns.”
“Escaping the chore of the question reflects the confusion of a helpless man who cannot make up his mind about this issue in specific,” Qandil, also a journalist, added.
According to George Ishaq, a leading member of Mohamed ElBaradei’s National Coalition for Change, “Obama’s words will make him lose his credibility among Arabs who once hoped he would be neutral.”
“Obama’s stand is shameful and humiliating. What happened is a crime by all means,” Ishaq, also a Kefaya co-founder, added.
Obama pointed out that all involved parties, namely Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Authority should be brought together to figure out “a two-state solution where Palestinians and Israelis can live side-by-side in peace and security.”
He added that Turkey can play a role in the process.
“Obama’s comments revealed a usual bias towards Israel,” Qandil argued.
MP and Muslim Brotherhood movement member Mohsen Rady shares Qandil’s view.
“Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are two sides of the same coin. This was expected from the US as a defender of Israel,” Rady noted.
On Monday, Israeli forces raided in international waters “Freedom Flotilla,” which consisted of six ships carrying 10,000 tons of aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip.
At least nine activists, mostly Turkish, were killed in the attack. The incident heightened tensions between Israel and Turkey.
Gaza has been under a complete siege since mid-2007 when Hamas took control of the territory. In December 2008, Israel launched a 22-day deadly offensive against Gaza.