Thursday, May 19, 2011

Americans not hopeful over peace process


White House photo by Lawrence Jackson
By GARY BAUMGARTEN
As President Obama prepares to give his so-called Arab Spring speech, which will be carried live at 11:40 AM New York time here, a new Gallup Poll shows that most Americans aren’t optimistic that any peace plan pushed by the United States will be successful.
Obama is expected to speak mainly about the Arab aspiration for democracy that is manifesting itself with demonstrations and corresponding governmental crackdowns around the world. But he’s also expected to talk about the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu travels to the Washington on Friday to, among other things, meet with Obama. He and the president will also both address the AIPAC policy conference in DC.
The speech and the meeting come against the backdrop of rapidly changing events that directly affect the prospects for a peace process. The recent resignation of George Mitchell as the U.S. special ambassador to the Middle East sends a signal that he became frustrated by the failure of the White House to broker a peace plan.
The recent alliance between Hamas and Fatah also serves as an impediment. Netanyahu on Monday told the Knesset that including Hamas in the peace process was a show stopper. That Israel won’t negotiate with an entity that includes elements that refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
The Palestinians, meanwhile, are pushing for international support for the unilateral declaration of a state of their own. The U.S. is on the record as opposing such a move. It believes that a sustainable peace is only possible with all parties agreeing – not on an imposition of a state from the outside.
Obama, meanwhile, after meeting Wednesday at the White House with Jordan’s King Abdullah, pledged to push forward with a two-state solution.
While some of this took place after the Gallup survey was completed, they illustrate why the poll concludes that most Americans don’t think that Obama will be anymore successful than were his predecessors in brokering a peace treaty.
The poll finds that only 38 percent of Americans are optimistic that Israel and her Arab nations will someday live in peace.

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