"Yes We Can" Meets "No We Won't"

[Slate] Shmuel Rosner - President Obama was planning a trilateral meeting with Netanyahu and Abbas on the sidelines of next week's UN General Assembly, and U.S. envoy Mitchell worked overtime this week to make it happen. But, suddenly, even getting the parties to a meeting is a challenge. Not to mention the difficulty of getting other Arab countries to make some kind of gesture to show they will be supportive of the relaunched peace process. Obama's request was rebuffed by Saudi Arabia, which said it will "refuse to engage Israel until it ends its illegal occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights as well as Shabaa Farms in Lebanon," Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal wrote in a New York Times op-ed. So even if there is a meeting next week or in the following weeks - even if the parties grudgingly agree to "negotiate" - it is clear to everyone involved, except for the overeager Americans, that success is unlikely. Because while Obama is running as fast as he can, all the Middle Eastern players are convinced that they had better move slowly. In short, the Obama administration had hoped that by showing enthusiasm and dynamism it would ignite positive momentum. Instead, it had raised false expectations and now faces a credibility gap. It's been eight months since the Obama administration decided to invest heavily in a peace process that didn't present any feasible opening for breakthroughs. Israel will not freeze settlements, Palestinians will not soften their demands, and Arabs will not lend a hand. And, by the way, Iran will not halt its nuclear program, Russia will not vote for stronger sanctions, Lebanon will not have a Hizbullah-free government, and Syria will not arrest terrorists crossing into Iraq. Not until they have better reasons to do what Obama wants them to do. Not until he shows them that he can also wait for them to make a move.

2009-09-18 08:00:00

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