The Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz and the Army Radio report a recent meeting between President Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and the Israeli consul in Los Angeles Jacob Dayan. Emanuel told Dayan the Obama administration was fed up with both Israel and the Palestinians. The American president is reported to be ‘sick of the Israelis who adopt suitable ideas months too late when they are no longer effective’. And he is also fed up with the ‘Palestinians who never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity’. As can be expected, the Israeli diplomat promptly briefed his government about the American president’s thinking.
Emanuel warned that if there was no progress in the peace process, the Obama administration would reduce involvement in the conflict, because the United States had other matters to deal with.
These comments reveal the frustration building up in the White House as Obama faces growing criticisms on a number of issues. They also raise questions like –
- If the United States president, less than a year in office, has already had enough of the two main parties in the conflict that is at the heart of the Middle East crisis, and a major hurdle to improving relations with Muslims all over the world, what does it tell about the future?
- What ‘other matters’ has he got to deal with?
- If the president is even half serious, what does it tell us about his long-term commitment to the world’s most intractable problem and what can the peoples in the Middle East and beyond expect?
- Washington’s aid for Israel is almost automatic every year and the huge support in Congress ensures its passage. Could the Israeli government not interpret Emanuel’s remarks as giving the green light to continue pursuing the same policy?
- Might this revelation not lead to further hopelessness in the Palestinian population, reinforcing the militancy among Palestinians, and in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere?
There will be those thinking if only President Obama was fed up with the Afghan ‘surge’ and moved on to other matters …