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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Obama administration does an abrupt about-face, once again pits America against Palestinians, Arab world

(Telegraph) -- Signalling an end to the brief flirtation with the Palestinian cause, the US secretary of state flew to Jerusalem to voice full American support for Israel and its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. In an effort to repair badly strained US-Israeli relations, she heaped praise on Mr Netanyahu, lauding his offer to limit settlement construction – even though it falls well short of President Obama's original demands. She said: "What the prime minister has offered in specifics on restraints on a policy of settlements... is unprecedented in the context of prior to negotiations." Risking the ire of the Arab world, she also joined Israeli calls for an immediate Palestinian return to the negotiating table without preconditions. America's about-turn on the most contentious issue stalling a resumption of Middle East peace talks has delighted Israel. But it will also damage Mr Obama's reputation as a peacemaker for many Arabs, bolster critics who have accused him of naïvety and enhance a growing sense of betrayal in the Palestinian territories...

Delivering a landmark speech to university students in Cairo five months ago, Mr Obama sought to reach out to the Arab world by speaking of his sympathy for Palestinian "suffering" and the "humiliation" of occupation. In a major policy declaration, he also rejected the legitimacy of Israeli settlement in the West Bank saying: "It is time for the settlements to stop." Presented with a subsequent demand from Mrs Clinton for a total settlement freeze without exception, Israel recoiled while the Arab world rejoiced...Yet while the United States and Israel may once more be friends, the confusing shifts in the Obama administration's policy seem to bode poorly for the prospects of a peace settlement...Cont'd...LINK

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