Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Obama hopeful on Mid-East peace.

Obama talks to the BBC about the Israel/Palestine crisis.

And he reminds the world, once again, that Israel has made commitments at Annapolis that he intends to hold them to, despite the fact that Netanyahu has made clear that he will not be held to those commitments. The question, obviously, is what does Obama do now.

Justin Webb attempts to tie him down, asking if he will do what George Bush's father did and threaten to curb US aid to Israel, but, unsurprisingly, Obama refuses to be forced into showing his hand on this matter.

"Not only is it in the interest of the Palestinian people to have a state, it's in the interest of the Israeli people to stabilise the situation there," he said.

"And it's in the interest of the United States that we've got two states living side by side in peace and security."

Asked about Israel's rejection of his call for a halt to Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the president urged patience, saying it was early in the conversation.

"Diplomacy is always a matter of a long hard slog. It's never a matter of quick results," he said.
He repeats that it is in Israeli and American interests that this situation is resolved and he appears to remain terribly confident that he can pull this off, although I don't see how it can happen without the collapse of the Netanyahu government, but if that's an aim it's obviously not one which he is going to articulate here.

What's clear is that he is articulating a link between the Israel/Palestine conflict and American security. That is redefining the way we should look at this conflict. He is telling Americans that they pay a price in terms of their security for what happens in the Middle East.

This is a serious change. He is not allowing this to be portrayed simply in the usual terms that Israel's supporters would like to see this in. Normally this is portrayed as, "They want to drive us into the sea", which means that every Israeli action has to be forgiven because it is set against such an apocalyptic background. Obama is saying that it is dangerous for Americans for the status quo to continue. It's a totally new approach to this conflict, and it's one which Netanyahu appears to be flustered by.

And, as Netanyahu flaps about, Obama seems to remain confident and determined that he can pull this off. I find that strangely comforting. He's obviously got a plan and he has Hillary and the pro-Israeli senators behind him. We'll just have to wait and see this plan as it plays out.

But, I wish him well. And I really hope he can pull this off. So far, he has not disappointed me on this issue.

No comments: