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January 21, 2010
Obama and the World: Middle East Peace Process

It’s been a year since President Obama took office, and although he named former Senator George Mitchell as special envoy to the region, little progress has been made between Israel and the Palestinians.

In fact, Obama said in an interview recently that the administration’s expectations were originally too high.

To discuss the situation in more detail, Martin Savidge speaks with Daniel Levy and Amjad Atallah, the co-directors of the Middle East Task Force at the New America Foundation.

For more on the Obama and the World series click here.

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17 comments

#17

To Waldo#14 :The basic issue is that Arab countries started all aggressions and conflicts against Israel in 1948, 1967, 1973, 1982, 2006 and 2008. They never give up dream to eliminating Israel. Of course 500.000 settlers are a big problem for Syria, HAMAS, Hezbollah, Fatah, because “they cannot even use some of the roads”.

#16

#15 please re-read my comment. I wrote (except in the US) It is the Israeli press and PM that acknowledges that Israel has suffered in world opinion.

#15

Contrary to what Waldo (#14) says: US public opinion is not turning against Israel, as major opinion polls repatedly show.

It is true that pro-Arab academics in Middle East Studies departments, funded by Saudi donations, have waged a propaganda campaign against Israel for decades. This has had an impact on academic elites. The pro-Arab media (including World Focus) has also had an impact.

However polls show that the great majority of Americans appreciate the bottom line – of Arab refusal to accept coexistsnce of a tiny Jewish state, and of ongoing Arab political/military campaigns to dismantle it.

They also appreciate historic Jewish ties with the land of Israel, and the fact that Jews clung to the land through all the invasions and conquests.

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#14

The basic issue is that Israel has 500,000 settlers in Palestine and controls all of the area. The Palestinians cannot even use some of the roads in their country. Anytime peace appeared possible, people like Barauch Goldstein (2/25/94) killed 39 Muslims at prayer and Yigal Amir killed PM Yitzhak Rabin (1995)to prevent the effort. They were hailed as heros by some Israelis. The collateral damage, civilians killed and property destroyed caused by Israel in the Lebanon and Gaza war has led to a new term used in Israel “deligitimization”
“The delegitimization [of Israel] must be delegitimized,” Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu (Haaretz, 10/18/09) said in response to the UN Goldstone Report on the Gaza war. Israel admits that world opinion (except in the US) has turned against Israel and is pressing a public relations campaign to silence critics of Israel’s policies.

#13

I think that the Israeli’s and the Palestinian need to change there owen leadership and allow the people who seem to care enough about them self to make peace, Jewish, Muslim, and Christian Arabs always got a long till we provided them with shock and awe and told them don’t trust the other person.

#12

ALL TALK…AND LITTLE TO…NO..ACTION! Can PEACE in the MIDDLE EAST ever TANGIBLE ?

#11

The “Middle East Problem” is a problem, because we humans lack correct moral judgement due to the failure of our institutions and religions to explain to us that we should live in such a way as to cause the least amount of pain and suffering to other living beings. It is true that the Palestinian people have been hurt. If we do not realize that, we can not realize anything, because morality is the basis for further mental and spiritual developement of our race.

#10

Contrary to the previous 2 posts: make the hundreds of millions of dollars of US aid to the Palestinians conditional on compromise. Then something might happen.

The Palestinians are the biggest recipients of aid per capita from the EU and UN, and now the US as well. Aid to Israel is all spent in the US on US hardware, and on servicing US based loans.

#9

End the $3-5 Billion U.S. aid to Israel each year and stop supplying them with military weapons. Then see how quick the peace talks will take hold.

#8

Looks like the Obama administration is content to let AIPAC and the Zionist imperialists determine US foreign policy.

#7

Two-state solution was implemented in 1922 per 1920 UN resolution, when british administration of occupied Israel allocated more than half Israel territory to Palestinian muslims and created Transjordan (now Jordan). Therefore, all so called “Palestinians: must be relocated there. Enough stealing Israel land. Britain and Jordan must compensate Israel for stolen land and natural resources.

#6

Here is an idea fro the Obama administration: Recognize that there were two sets of refugees, one Arab and one Jewish. The numbers were similar too – if anything, there were MORE Jewish refugees from Iraq, Syria, Algeria, etc. than Arab refugees.

Since Israel took in all the Jewish refugees, the future Palestinian state can take in all the Arab refugees. Then, the “right of return” will cease to be an insurmountable obstacle to peace.

#5

A look at the “peace process” shows that the Arab world has done well on a political level – although individual Arabs have suffered.

The Palestinians rejected every plan (Clinton’s Camp David, Oslo, Olmert…), each time wringing new concessions from Israel. Then when Israel is forced into new negotiations, the Palestinians insist in starting from the last set of concessions.

They evidently still believe that thanks to Western naivete, they can achieve with political means what they could not do with a series of wars.

#4

Number 3 is right.

The Palestinians have to start making compromises too.

Mahmoud Abbas’ position on refugees, borders, Jerusalem, are all the same as the hardline positions of Arafat:

(1) He demands resettlement of Arab refugees in pre-1967 Israel, not the West Bank. This denies the rights of the similar number of Jewish refugees from Arab lands. It sidesteps Arab responsibility for starting the wars that led to BOTH refugee issues.

(2) Abbas rejects ever recognizing Israel as a Jewish state – even as he demands a Judenrein Palestinian state, and even as Israeli Arabs (rightly) continue to have Israeli citizenship.

(3) Abbas continues to fund the militant Al Aqsa Brigades. His schools and media continue to indoctrinate for endless conflict until Israel is destroyed. All his maps show all of Israel as part of the Palestinian state.

(4) It’s indicative that last week Abbas praised the three who killed an Israeli rabbi as “martyrs”. It is indicative that he named the West Bank’s new computer center after Dalal Mugrabi, infamous for killing nearly 40 Israeli children and adults in a bus attack decades ago.

#3

It was interesting to see Mr. Atallah talk of the confusion of Arab governments. Yet the latter have not done a thing for peace. When Secretary of State Clinton asked for some reciprocal gestures, they publicly rejected her. She was humiliated by this in Saudi Arabia.

Mr. Atallah also claims that the Obama administration spoke with a new vision, but did not implement it. Yet the administration placed huge pressure on Israel, which led to the West Bank settlement freeze. That was a real step.

If anything, the administration has probably learnt that its repeated public humiliation of Israel, combined with uncritical praise for Mahmoud Abbas, has been counterproductive. It made Mahmoud Abbas take an even harder line, and place new conditions for even talking.

A real process would involve Palestinian concessions matching those of Israel.

#2

“Peace process” – ha ha. It exists in name only.

The bottom line is the same as it has been ever since 1948, when the Arab world invaded Israel, and failed to destroy it. The Arab World can simply not accept the idea that a people like the Jews who lived as “dhimmis” in the Arab world can have self determination.

Until this basic attitude changes, nothing the US does, nor no Israeli concession, will bring a permanent settlement.

#1

It was unfortunate that World Focus chose Levy and Atallah as its pundits for discussing the ME “peace process”. Atallah blames all on Israel, is an apologist for Arab regimes, and is a pro-Arab lobbyist. Levy largely echos Atallah, and does not in any way represent centrist Israeli views.

Compare this to your segment on Iran, where you had tow pro-Iranian professors soft soaping Iran.

The bias was compounded when Savidge asked “Is Israel doing enough to support Abbas” – as if Abbas has made a single compromise for peace.

World Focus has a very distorted lens on this issue

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