Israel Hayom reports that when Obama visits Israel in March, it will not be to just smile before the cameras. Instead, Jerusalem expects Obama will bring new peace plan, demand breakthrough:
Officials in Jerusalem believe that U.S. President Barack Obama, who has announced he will visit Israel in mid-March, will arrive with a new peace plan and the demand for a breakthrough in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.During his first term, we saw Obama's self-induced failure to move the peace talks forward as a result of his initial -- and unheard of -- insistence on making an Israeli settlement freeze a precondition to talks. Instead, it was the talks that froze and came to a grinding halt as Abbas adopted Obama's demand as his own as an excuse to avoid the peace talks.
Obama's itinerary, which includes stops in Ramallah and Amman, suggests that his administration may be preparing a new peace bid. Word of the coming trip followed calls by incoming U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday stressing the U.S. commitment to peacemaking. President Obama's associates have said in recent days that he plans to play a "central role" in shaping U.S. policy in the region.
"Obama is coming to talk about Iran and the peace process with the Palestinians," a senior diplomatic source in Jerusalem told Israel Hayom on Tuesday.
Everyone assumed that Obama would put peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs on the back burner --
Following his re-election, U.S. media reported that Obama planned to adopt a less interventionist strategy [dubbed benign neglect] into Israel's affairs, due to the president's frustration with Israeli policy, particularly the recent decision to build 3,000 housing units in E1 between Jerusalem and Ma'ale Adumim.Read the whole thing.
It appears that recent developments, especially the results of Israel's elections, have led the White House to reconsider its approach. Many in the Washington were pleased with Yair Lapid's surprise success, viewing it as an opportunity for a new coalition that could advance the peace process. At the same time, Senator John Kerry's appointment as secretary of state may blow new wind into the sails of negotiations, as Kerry appears determined to pursue the issue despite the administration's frustrations.
To view a new coalition as a new opportunity for talks when in fact it has been Abbas who has stood in the way of any progress means Obama has learned nothing. If he views a new coalition as a new opportunity, it is an opportunity to apply new pressure and demand new unilateral concessions from Israel.
If indeed this is Obama's view, he has learned nothing from the past four years.
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