Obama ponders pressure on Syria’s Assad

Activists set one-day strike

“So much of what’s taking place has to do with the aspirations of young people throughout the Arab world for their ability to determine their own fate, to get an education, to get a job, to be able to support a family,” Mr. Obama said. “And that means some of the old structures that were inhibiting their ability to progress have to be reworked.”

Popular uprisings this year have swept the region from Tunisia to Syria. Mr. Obama’s speech will lay out his approach for encouraging democracy in those countries. But King Abdullah told the president Tuesday that progress between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is the “core issue of the Middle East.”

The administration, however, suggested that the king and others hoping for a focus on Israel should shift their expectations.

“The speech is not about the Middle East peace process,” Mr. Carney said. “It will include a discussion of the conflict between the Israelis, the Palestinians and the peace process, but it is a much broader speech than that, [and] looks at developments in the entire region.”

Mr. Obama’s spokesman said it is a moment of opportunity for everyone in the Middle East, including Israelis and Palestinians.

“There is historic change taking place in the region and proof that there are universal aspirations - a desire for greater freedom, greater political freedom and economic prosperity that crosses borders, crosses ethnicities, crosses nationalities,” he said.

Since Mr. Obama took office, Israeli settlement construction and Palestinian movement toward a declaration of statehood - including an alliance between the Fatah group that governs the West Bank and the Hamas terrorists who control the Gaza Strip - have complicated Mr. Obama’s goal of a two-state solution.

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