As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Graveyard Of Diplomacy

The President is doing more to advance the cause of Middle East peace today than George Bush did in eight years. However, nobody knows if it will amount to anything.

President Obama on Tuesday chided the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority for not doing more to move peace talks forward but announced no breakthrough after meeting here privately with both men.

Speaking before convening three-way talks later in the day, Obama said top U.S. diplomatic officials will continue discussions with both countries in the next two weeks in an attempt to restart peace talks.

"It is past time to talk about starting negotiations. It is time to move forward," Obama said after shaking hands for the cameras with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

"We cannot continue the same pattern of taking tentative steps forward and then stepping back," Obama said. "It is absolutely critical that we get this issue resolved."

Obama very specifically said to the two leaders, "I'm losing patience." Here's the full public statement.

Obviously, the President wants to at least be able to announce some progress. But getting a hard-right Likud government and the Palestinians to agree on that will prove harder than getting Republicans on board with his health care plan. I don't really see a window of opportunity here, though you can hardly blame the President for trying. And I agree with J Street that engaged Presidential leadership is the only way forward. Indeed, it always has been. When a President looks away, the factions in the Middle East take to fighting. When he is engaged, some progress toward peace can always be made. How much is the question.

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