American President Barack Obama called for a "new beginning between the United States and Muslims" Thursday and said together, they could confront violent extremism across the globe and advance the search for peace in the Middle East.
"This cycle of suspicion and discord must end," Obama said in a speech in one Egyptian capital. Obama conceded at his first remarks that tension "has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations."
"And I consider it part of my responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear," he said. At the same time, he said the same principle must apply in reverse. "Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire."
The American leader stated the actions of violent extremist Muslims are "irreconcilable with the rights of human beings." "Islam is not part of the problem in combatting violent extremism — it is an important part of promoting peace," Obama stressed.
He called on Israel and Palestinians to fullfil their international obligations. "Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, and recognize Israel's right to exist," he said of the organization the United States deems as terrorists.
"The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people," Obama said.
"At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements" on the West Bank and outskirts of Jerusalem, he said. "It is time for these settlements to stop."
Regarding Jerusalem, he said it should be a "secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims ..." Obama added the Arab nations should no longer use the conflict with Israel to distract its own people from other problems.
He also discussed the issue of spreading democracy. Obama said he has a commitment to governments "that reflect the will of the people." And yet, he said, "No system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other."
"There is so much fear, so much mistrust. But if we choose to be bound by the past, we will never move forward," he said.