Leading article: Mr Obama's bold new strategy

Share
Related Topics

The simple truth of efforts to reach peace in the Middle East is that pessimism has so often proved justified. So it will have come as no surprise to most observers – and certainly any observer in the region – that the first meeting this week of the new United States President, Barack Obama, and the even newer Prime Minister of Israel, Binyamin Netanyahu, produced no diplomatic breakthrough.

President Obama reiterated his belief that the only future lies in a two-state solution, ending Israeli settlement building and giving the Palestinians a country of their own. Prime Minister Netanyahu responded by avoiding all talk of settlements and a two-state agreement, instead declaring only that he is ready to talk to the Palestinian Authority on economic and security matters and reiterating his belief that no security can be achieved in the Middle East until the question of Iran's nuclear ambition has been confronted. In matters of tone, the US-Israeli relationship remains one of absolute faith. In matters of policy, the two leaders have agreed to differ.

This may have proved disappointing to those who had hoped for an early breakthrough in moves towards peace, or to those who might have hoped for some grand battle of wills. But it should not be. What the Middle East is witnessing is a new US administration determined on making peace in the region a priority, but doing so in a novel and more measured way than any of its predecessors.

Instead of concentrating on the specifics of the Israeli-Palestinian relationship, President Obama has signed up to the idea of a comprehensive peace as suggested by the Arab League in 2002, under which the whole Arab world would agree to recognise Israel on condition that it retreated to its pre-1967 borders. The drawbacks are glaring. It leaves unaddressed the problem of the Israeli settlements on the West Bank and the question of the right of return for the Palestinian diaspora. But it has the huge benefit of enveloping the most intractable bilateral difficulties in a wider agreement that could satisfy Israel's overriding security concerns and the Arab desire to settle the Palestinian question once and for all.

This week's Obama-Netanyahu summit produced no breakthrough but it did show a US President determined not to be diverted from his course of building up to a regional peace, including a new pact with Iran and better relations with Syria. Next week he meets the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, in Washington. The following week, President Obama goes to Egypt to make his first major speech in an Arab country.

The pessimists may predict another peace initiative that will fail. But, for the moment, the world has a new US President determined to make a difference and with a strategy to achieve it. We should all applaud him as he tries.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Piper Ryan Randall leads a pro-Scottish independence rally in the suburbs of Edinburgh  

i Editor's Letter: Britain survives, but change is afoot

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Some believe that David Cameron is to blame for allowing Alex Salmond a referendum  

Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?

Mark Steel
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam