President Obama believes prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace are “bleak,” but he still will urge both sides to avoid unilateral actions that might further damage a process he hopes will be back on track within a year.
That was the message Obama delivered Thursday in a meeting with about 25 Jewish community figures at the White House to discuss his planned trip to Israel later this month. Obama was especially engaged, participants said, when it came to discussing how he might best convey to the Israeli people his enthusiasm for Israel and its Jewish history.
Many of us who are avid supporters of Israel are used to lamenting over and over again the bias of the United Nations. The most recent occasion for these complaints was the vote of the General Assembly to change the status of Palestine at the U.N. to non-member observer state. On such occasions, it is often pointed out that if the Palestinians introduced a resolution stating that the earth is flat, they would be able to obtain a majority in the General Assembly. Such is the bias against Israel.
Being here in Israel on a brief but intense four-day mission, and given all that is going on right now as a result of Israel's announced intention to begin new construction in so-called area E-1, between Ramallah and Ma'aleh Adumim, the title of my article must seem strange.
For weeks there have been murmurings in the Israeli press about the likely resumption of direct Israeli – Palestinian peace talks, and yesterday there were reports both sides will be invited to Washington in early September to start negotiations under the auspices of the Mideast Quartet.<
I've always regarded Aaron David Miller as one of the smartest, most thoughtful U.S. peace processors. Since he left the State Department a few years back, he's been one of my favorite analysts for the simple reason that his take on the Middle East doesn't flow from hardened ideology but from long experience and a willingness to constantly reevaluate old assumptions.
Call most Middle East analysts about the crisis du jour, and you know in advance what they're going to say; calling Miller often produces interesting journalistic surprises.