Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Obama's trip to Israel: low to no expectations

Three different New York Times op-eds express why no one should be holding their breath that the U.S. president's trip to Israel next week will advance Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Obama Going to IsraelAlthough many people in Jerusalem and Ramallah are anxiously waiting for U.S. President Barak Obama to arrive next week, there are some who are not as enthusiastic. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who is considered close to the White House, wrote Tuesday morning that Obama "could be the first sitting American president to visit Israel as a tourist."

Friedman does not criticize Obama personally but treats his visit to Israel with a lot of cynicism:

"In case you haven’t heard, President Obama leaves for Israel next week. It is possible, though, that you haven’t heard because it is hard for me to recall a less-anticipated trip to Israel by an American president… little is expected from this trip - not only because little is possible, but because, from a narrow U.S. point of view, little is necessary.

"Quietly, with nobody announcing it, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has shifted from a necessity to a hobby for American diplomats… Obama worked on this hobby early in his first term. He got stuck as both parties rebuffed him, and, therefore, he adopted, quite rationally in my view, an attitude of benign neglect. It was barely noticed," he wrote.

Obama has many good reasons to neglect the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. A Palestinian state would be nice, but the tumultuous Arab world and the struggle between Sunnis and Shiites in the region raises questions about the mere future of the Syrian, Egyptian and Libyan states.

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