We’re afraid this is slowly turning out to be a bad joke..
Obama, the recent surprise winner of the Nobel piece price, started off his Middle East policy with the right note, calling for a total freeze of Israeli settlement building on the West Bank. For all (but the religious fanatics), it will be clear that:
- These settlements are illegal under international law.
- They create “facts on the ground” that make it ever more difficult to arrive at a final solution.
So it was the right move, if long overdue (there are quit a few “facts on the ground” created, already making a final peace deal extremely difficult to achieve).
Now, it so happens that when Obama took over, a right-wing coalition onder Benjamin Netanyahu became the new government of Israel, and the new US policy stance would be very hard to swallow for them, as their support comes to a large extent from the hard-line settlement movement and religious right.
So it was a question who was going to blink first.
And the answer was, unfortunately, Obama, setting a particulary disturbing precedent. Netanyahu now knows he has little to fear from the US.
Obama wouldn’t stop at that, pressuring the moderate Abbas into not accepting the Goldstein report (which accused both Israel and Hamas of war-crimes), severely denting Abbas’ credibility with his own population. It also destroyed most Arab goodwill created by his reconciliatory Cairo speech.
A “peace process” only has the faintest of chances when the position of moderates of each side are strengthened, the very opposite from what now has been achieved by Obama.
So Obama might be a better speaker his predecessor (not a terrible tall order by any strech of the imagination), but for Israel (and the Middle East), it’s business as usual..
What were they thinking off, there in Stockholm?