As we all know, Obama assumed office under a welter of expectations, some of which were impractical and even unreasonable. There was no reason to expect that a man who got the support of a majority of the American people would veer off the mainstream course by more than a few inches. Nevertheless, there was optimism in the air and a feeling that change was underway. The Israeli-Palestinian issue was one area where it was hoped that Barack Hussein Obama, with his Indonesian childhood and Islamic heritage, would make a major contribution. Obama’s Cairo speech added fuel to the buring hope.
I wasn't too impressed with Obama’s Cairo speech and I had said so in this post. Now that Obama has refused to support the Palestinian bid for statehood, it looks as if all my worst fears about Obama have been confirmed.
I consider myself a friend of Israel. I have visited Israel as a tourist and had a grand time there. I believe that Israel has the right to a peaceful existence. However, let us not forget that Israel was created by a UN resolution backed by member states who were horrified at what Jews had undergone during the Second World War. The UN resolution which gave birth to Israel also provided for a Palestinian state. The least Israel can do is to respect the UN resolution which created it and allow the Palestinians to have a homeland of their own as well, as per the terms of the same UN resolution. By not reverting to the pre-1967 boundaries and by continuing to build settlements in the occupied territories, Israel is being very unreasonable, ungrateful even, to the rest of the world.
A year ago, if the US had refused to support a bid such as the one currently being made by the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, no one would have batted an eyelid. Now, things have changed. Israel is rapidly running out of friends in its neighbourhood. The US is still a superpower, but nowhere as powerful as it used to be. Arabs in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt have overthrown their rulers and countries like Syria and Yemen are in turmoil. The new regimes in these countries will do more than offer platitudes to the Palestinians. The most important Muslim majority country in Israel’s neighbourhood, Turkey, is now ruled not by its secular armed forces, but by an Islamic party under the leadership of the extremely shrewd Recep Tayeb Erdogan. The US is having a horrible time in Afghanistan. Iraq is stable, but is under Iran’s shadow and control.
In short, this is a very bad time for the US to upset the Palestinians and tell them that they can have a state of their own only when the Israelis decide to allow them to have one. Nevertheless, thanks to domestic compulsions, Obama is planning to do just that.