EDITORIAL – Israeli cause over Palestine peacemaking
THE UNITED STATES’ President Barack Obama was elected in part because he promised to change American foreign policies of the former Bush administration, which was unpopular abroad and had strained relations with key allies.
To some degree he has succeeded in containing Iran and has weakened the al-Qaeda network, but his efforts in bringing about peace in the Middle East have been a spectacular failure.
Over the past 32 months, there have been many bumps along the road, especially in the global economy. However, some trends are clear: alliances are stronger, the United States is somewhat less bogged down in foreign wars, the Arab world is less hostile and al-Qaeda is on the run.
Mr Obama has had more success with the agenda he set in January 2009 than is usually recognized. The question is why does his foreign policy often seem erratic, with people around the world talking about declining American power?
From our distance it seems to be the president’s low-key, sometimes deferential style, and the unfortunate talk by one of his advisers about “leading from behind”.
This week, President Obama, grappling with a poor economy and slumping approval ratings, faces problems on a larger stage at the United Nations, with challenges to his leadership in the Middle East and questions about the United States’ role in the world.
Mr Obama will no doubt seek to reassert his diplomatic credentials in an address today in the cavernous UN General Assembly hall, where he has been warmly received in past years.
It will be different this year as he faces a possible rebuff to American leadership in the Palestinians’ quest for statehood via a UN resolution. President Mahmood Abbas on Monday vowed to submit a bid for UN recognition of a Palestinian state this week.
Despite strong opposition from Israel and the United States, Mr Abbas met with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to tell him he would go ahead.
The United States, despite its avowed approval of a two-state solution, has threatened to veto any approach by the Palestinians to the UN Security Council, seeking backing for state recognition.
Mr Abbas admitted he has been under international pressure, and warned that the Palestinian people will experience difficult times after their approach to the UN through the Security Council to seek full membership for the Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with east Jerusalem as its capital.
Unfortunately, it will come to nought with a United States veto and Israeli objection.
With the 2012 presidential election looming large, the United States Congress seems more loyal to the Israeli cause than to its long-term security in the Middle East.