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Diplomatic push for Middle East


shadiasimpson, [email protected]

Diplomatic push for Middle East

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UNITED STATES President Barack Obama scored a diplomatic coup last week on his whirlwind trip to the Middle East. At first there was much speculation that the tour would merely be a widow-dressing exercise, especially among the Palestinians.
However, there is now some scope for progress though somewhat tangentially. First there was the belated apology that came from Israel for the 2010 commando raid on an aid flotilla on a Turkish vessel carrying supplies to Palestine. This shows that diplomacy works but often requires patience.
Clearly this development came after much pressure from Obama but the fact that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized and agreed to compensate the victims’ families, was enough to restore bilateral relations between the countries.
This about-turn by Netanyahu brought to the fore the United States’ influence in the region, as Obama managed to prevail over his somewhat difficult but closest ally.
Though Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan may perhaps see the apology as a personal political victory over his obdurate Israeli counterpart, the deal-clincher might have had more to do with the rescinding of his remarks on Zionism.  
With Syria’s civil-strife taking its toll and the security equation between Israel and its Arab-Muslim neighbours deteriorating, it is considered a masterstroke by Obama to mend the fences between Tel Aviv and Ankara, two very strategic allies.
The point is that this rapprochement has come close on the heels of Obama’s “epoch-making statement” while visiting the Occupied Palestinian territories, in which he called on Israel to undo the illegal settlements and work for a two-state solution.
This was clearly intended to placate the Palestinians but it would have resonated well among many Arabs and would go along way in rejuvenating the stalled diplomacy for a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine.
President Obama must clearly keep up the pressure and ensure that his Middle East goal articulated in his first term doesn’t end up in half-hearted achievements. He must use America’s enormous influence to achieve a comprehensive breakthrough in one of the most volatile regions in the world.
One of the most noteworthy aspects of Obama’s visit was his articulation of the need to end Israel’s occupation and settlements. He correctly noted that Israel can only enjoy solid peace and security once the Palestinians enjoy freedom, sovereignty and democracy.
At the time of Obama’s visit to the Middle East, there was a picture in a newspaper of a Palestininan holding a placard saying: “You can veto our rights but you cannot veto our dreams. Vote for freedom, veto occupation.”
Though his trip was a success and might have mitigated some of these fears, America’s one-sided approach towards Israel complicates its mediation efforts in solving most of the conflicts in the Middle East which faces perilous times.
Paradoxically, this United States policy position is often the cause of some of the problems and threats that region faces.

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