President Obama Is Learning Why Israeli-Palestinian Peacemaking Isn't Easy

[Washington Post] Editorial - President Obama and his aides assumed that Israelis and Arab governments would welcome an aggressive effort by the new U.S. president to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace. As a practical matter, that hasn't proved true. Netanyahu's government would prefer to bolster Abbas' government economically before beginning final peace talks; Abbas himself has been preoccupied with consolidating his own authority and gaining the upper hand over the rival Hamas movement. Leading Arab states such as Saudi Arabia appear - like Israel - much more concerned with how the Obama administration will handle the threat of Iran. The administration also concluded, wrongly, that obtaining an unconditional Israeli settlement freeze was an essential first step. In fact settlements are no longer a strategic obstacle to peace; as a practical matter, most of the construction is in areas that will not be part of a Palestinian state. The administration's inflexible stance led to an unwinnable confrontation with Netanyahu, turned Israeli public opinion against Obama, and prompted Palestinians to harden their own position. The compromise now being discussed between Washington and Jerusalem will differ little from past deals.

2009-09-23 08:00:00

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