News / Middle East

Mideast Analysts Say Obama Has Time on His Side in Mideast Peace Process

President Barack Obama talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel at the conclusion of a statement to the press in the East Room of the White House, Sept. 1, 2010.
President Barack Obama talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel at the conclusion of a statement to the press in the East Room of the White House, Sept. 1, 2010.

Multimedia

Multiple U.S. leaders over the decades have pushed for it, but there is still no lasting peace in the Middle East.

U.S. President Barack Obama's Mideast Envoy George Mitchell says this should not deter the United States. "The cause of peace is so important, so just, indeed - I'm not trying to use hyperbole - so noble, that it must continue notwithstanding prior efforts' failure," he said.

Mr. Obama vowed to press for a two-state solution during his speech in Cairo six months into his presidency. "That is in Israel's interest, Palestine's interest, America's interest, and the world's interest. And that is why I intend to personally pursue this outcome with all the patience and dedication that the task requires," he said.

Notre Dame University Professor Michael Desch, like many Mideast analysts, is skeptical that direct talks that began this month will yield success.  Desch says obstacles include the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, and what he describes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's reluctance to embrace the idea a two-state solution.

"The optimist might say that President Obama is committed to this issue, made a historic speech in Cairo reaching out to the Arab and Islamic world, and is beginning this effort relatively early in his first term in office. But I think the structural obstacles to successful peace negotiations are just huge," he said.

George Mitchell says he believes the president will succeed, even though the president himself acknowledges that the outcome is uncertain, and the goal is agreement on major issues within one year.   Mitchell said whatever the outcome, "it isn't going to be because time ran out at the end."

Robert Danin, of the Council On Foreign Relations, points out that Mr. Obama is less than halfway into his first term in office. He says this gives him leverage. "Starting with a great deal of time left in the administration means that President Obama still calls the shots. Whereas previous presidents were up against a wall.  They were up against the end of their administrations, and the parties knew it, and they were able to play that against the United States," he said.

Danin says he does not think the Israeli and Palestinian leaders will want to anger or embarrass a U.S. president who could be in office for another two to six years. "I don't believe that this is the graveyard for American presidents, but pursuing Israeli-Palestinian peace, Arab-Israeli peace, is not a domestic vote getter," he said.

President Jimmy Carter brought together Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin for the Camp David Accords in 1978.  President George H.W. Bush took part in the Madrid peace conference in 1991, with Israeli and key Arab leaders in attendance.  

Neither U.S. president was re-elected.

Now, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the economy, elections and other issues all compete for attention with Mideast peace.

Ian Lustick, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, says that makes a Palestinian-Israeli peace deal that much harder to achieve. "It is hard to imagine even in the best of circumstances President Obama solving that problem, of being able to attend to this and almost only this issue over a significant period of time for the next year, which is almost what's necessary," he said.

You May Like

Ukraine President Appeals for More US Support

Speaking before Congress ahead of meeting with President Obama, Petro Poroshenko urges lawmakers to back Ukraine in its quest for freedom and democracy More

Photogallery Global Audience Watches as Scots Go to the Polls

People were almost equally divided over a vote for independence, watched closely by Britain's allies, investors and restive regions at home and abroad More

China to Invest $20B in India Amid Border Dispute

Border spat between armies of two countries in Himalayas underlines mutual tensions despite growing commercial ties highlighted by Xi Jinping's high-profile visit More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid