If you’re wondering what President Obama plans to do next about peace between Israel and the Palestinians just read his West Point speech this week.
Nothing. He didn’t mention it once.
He only mentioned Israel twice and then in reference to other issues – Egypt’s peace treaty and Iran’s nuclear ambitions – and the Palestinians not at all.
His 5,066-word graduation address to cadets at the military academy was billed as a major foreign policy message. He mentioned numerous conflicts around the globe, including in Syria (10 times), Ukraine, Central African Republic, South China Sea, Afghanistan and Nigeria. The word “peace” or a variation of it came up 13 times but none in reference to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
What does that mean? It should be obvious. The President’s heart was never really in his secretary of state’s energetic drive to bring the two reluctant sides together, and when it collapsed – as everyone except possibly John Kerry himself – expected, the administration has decided to move on to other more pressing issues.
The Kerry initiative collapsed in the wake of moves by both sides that looked a lot like they were intended to scuttle the talks and blame the other side for their failure. Neither side has shown much interest – beyond rhetorical, and that was only to please the Americans -- in going back to the table.
This week Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is announcing the makeup of his Fatah-Hamas unity government. There is no way Israel would negotiate with a Palestinian government that includes the Gaza-based terrorist organization, and there’s no way the United States would press it to do so.
Obama’s non-spoken message at West Point was clear: any peace process will have to wait for new leaders all the way around. Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu aren’t really interested, and if they aren’t neither is Barack Obama.
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