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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Obama to give major Middle East address... without Israel and the 'Palestinians'?

President Obama is likely to give a major address on the Middle East in the next ten days or so before leaving on a trip to Europe. But he may have nothing to say about a 'peace process' between Israel and the 'Palestinians.'
Obama, who will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on May 20, is considering giving the speech before he leaves on a trip to Europe early in the week of May 22, a senior administration official said.

The administration, seeking to counter criticism it has struggled to keep pace with turmoil in the Arab world, has been crafting a new US strategy for the region since shortly after popular uprisings erupted, toppling autocratic rulers in Egypt and Tunisia and engulfing Libya in near-civil war.

The killing of bin Laden in a US raid on his Pakistan compound will give Obama a chance to make the case for Arabs to reject al Qaida's Islamist militancy and embrace democratic change in a new era of relations with Washington.

Though Obama has made repairing US ties with the Muslim world a key thrust of his foreign policy, one US official said the coming address would be "about political change in the Middle East and North Africa, not about Islam."

The date of Obama's speech has not been set, administration sources stressed. But whatever the timing, it is expected to seek to clarify what has been called the "Obama doctrine," a still-fuzzy prescription for dealing with Middle East unrest.

A complicating factor for Obama's speech is whether the time is ripe for him to present new ideas aimed at reviving long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

Many Israelis are already unsettled over the implications for the Jewish state from unrest in the broader Middle East, and a new reconciliation deal between the mainstream Palestinian Fatah faction and its rival, the Islamist Hamas movement, has raised further doubts about peace prospects.


While there is little doubt Obama will use his meeting with Netanyahu to try to advance Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy, it is unclear how hard Obama is willing to push for concessions from a leader with whom he already has strained relations.

That could risk alienating Israel's base of support among the US public and in Congress as well as the influential pro-Israel lobby as Obama seeks re-election in 2012.


Netanyahu -- who will address the US Congress on May 24 -- is not likely to outline any far-reaching peace proposals, Israeli political sources said.

There had been speculation before the Hamas-Fatah unity deal that Netanyahu -- who heads a right-leaning, pro-settler coalition -- would do so.

But moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's accord with Hamas, which Israel and the United States brand a terrorist organization, has reduced pressure on Netanyahu to act and diminished Obama's leverage for pressing him.


At 3:29 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Carl.
One US official said the coming address would be "about political change in the Middle East and North Africa, not about Islam."

"President to Renew Muslim Outreach"? Has he ever spoken about anything but Islam?He will again stab Israel in the back as he has always done.Israel has nothing to fear but Hussein Obama.

At 9:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The story is changing. Obama may push a Palestinian-Israeli plan or vision or hail Mary after all:


"US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton first hinted last month that Obama would be making a speech on the Middle East...

Since then, however, Hamas and Fatah entered into a unity-government deal that has complicated the American posture toward engaging the Palestinians, and has pushed Israel away from the negotiating table.

At the same time, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has been threatening to go to the United Nations in September to seek recognition of a unilaterally declared Palestinian state, which neither the US nor Israel want to see happen.

That threat has prompted speculation that through his speech, Obama would try to generate momentum in a different direction."


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