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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Report: Obama speech won't include Israel and 'Palestinians'

Along with my missing posts from May 12, I am missing some posts from May 11. One of the missing posts is entitled "Obama to give major Middle East address... without Israel and the 'Palestinians'?" Saturday's Wall Street Journal reports the same thing: That Obama's major speech about the Middle East - which is now scheduled for Thursday - will not include any new initiatives regarding Israel and the 'Palestinians.' And the resignation on Friday of George Mitchell - Obama's first appointee after his inauguration - would also seem to confirm it.
In his letter of resignation, Mr. Mitchell gave no reason for stepping down, other than saying he hadn't intended to serve in this post for more than two years.

In a statement, Mr. Obama praised his "tireless work" toward a resolution of the conflict and a "proud legacy of public service."

"As a nation, we remain committed to peace in the Middle East and to building on George's hard work and progress toward achieving this goal," Mr. Obama said.

Mr. Obama's speech on Thursday won't include an extensive section on negotiations, and the president doesn't intend the address as a launching pad for a new round of talks, a senior administration official said.

There had been speculation that the White House would try to capitalize on the democratic uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa to try and jumpstart the Israeli-Palestinian talks, which have been moribund since September.

Rather, the speech will focus on the Arab Spring uprisings and will put the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in context of the movement, said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

Mr. Carney, describing the address as "fairly sweeping and comprehensive," said the president would call on governments in the region to respond to demands for a peaceful dialogue.


"The basic reality is you have a nonexistent peace process," said Aaron Miller, a former Middle East negotiator now at the Wilson Center, a think tank. "Why would you require the services of a very talented, credible negotiator?"

Prime Minister Netanyahu, who meets with Obama at the White House this coming Friday, had praise for Mitchell.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke with newly resigned US envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell and thanked him for his efforts to promote the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the PMO said in a statement released on Saturday.

Netanyahu told Mitchell he was sorry to hear of his resignation. The prime minister also expressed sorrow at what he called the Palestinian refusal to come to the negotiating table.

He blamed the Palestinian Authority's setting of preconditions for torpedoing the peace talks which Mitchell worked to promote.

Netanyahu expressed to Mitchell his disappointment in the failure of peace talks and the Palestinian Authority's eventual reconciliation with Hamas.
What could go wrong?

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