Israeli-Palestinian expectations on Obama's speech low

14:08, May 18, 2011      

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by Mohamed Abu Robb, Osama Radi

The Israelis and the Palestinians are waiting for U. S. President Barack Obama's speech due to be delivered on Thursday on the major developments in the Middle East and on the future of the peace process as their expectations of the speech are limited.

The Israeli and Palestinian demands are contradicted and reflect the large gap in the two sides' views concerning what Obama's speech would include concerning the peace process. They are not fully optimistic that the stalled peace process would be resumed soon.

Obama will give his speech on Thursday eight months after the peace process had been totally frozen and the direct talks between the two sides had been suspended. The talks were launched in Washington in September last year, and were suspended after four weeks due to the settlement crisis.

However, the Palestinians keep threatening to apply to the United Nations and Security Council to demand an international recognition of an independent Palestinian state on the territories Israel occupied in 1967 if the peace process collapses. Israel and the United States oppose the Palestinian plan.


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had on Monday called on President Obama to focus his speech on the two-state solution, Israel and Palestinian state on the territories occupied in 1967, halting all settlement activities, mainly in east Jerusalem and resuming the talks on permanent status issue.

Nabil Abu Rdeineh, spokesman of the Palestinian Presidency told Xinhua that the Palestinian side will never accept making more concessions under the pressure of any party and impose a solution that contradicts with the international resolutions related to the Palestinian cause.

He denied if the Palestinians had received any offers or plans from the United States to push forward the stalled peace process, adding that the "Palestinian, Arab and even American support any peace agreement based on the two-state solution and the roadmap plan."

Palestinian observers reduced the official and popular expectations concerning the speech of Obama. Abdel Majid Sweilim, a Ramallah-based analyst said the Palestinians are not expecting that Obama's speech will add distinctive outcomes in this period of time concerning the future of peace.

"Palestinian leadership will listen to Obama's speech hoping that it will include a confirmation on the principle of the two- state solution," Sweilim told Xinhua, adding "If this happens, I believe it will be a great achievement in this period of time for the Palestinians."

However, Sweilim believes the meeting that will be held between Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the White House on Friday, a day after the speech, "will have positive implications that Obama wants to exert pressure on Israel, but this pressure is less than what the Palestinians expect."


When Obama took office after he was elected as the U.S. president, his promises to the Arabs and the Palestinians were so high, however, these expectations deteriorated after he reduced the pressure on the state of Israel to freeze settlement activities and constructions.

The Palestinian inter-reconciliation pact signed between Hamas and Fatah movements in Cairo on May 4 will influence Obama's speech this time as Israel opposed the agreement and considered it as a strong strike to the Middle East peace process.

Nashaat el-Aqtash, another Ramallah-based news analyst said that the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation agreement will increase the burdens of Obama once he talks about the future of the peace process. "Obama is needed to be fair by accepting the Palestinian will of choosing the reconciliation."

"The timing of Obama's speech and its content won't be satisfactory to Netanyahu who wants to impose his own conditions in order to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians," said al-Aqtash, referring to Netanyahu's demands to the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.


Israeli political sources ruled out that there will be a confrontation between Netanyahu and Obama during their meeting in the White House scheduled on Friday. Israeli Radio had earlier reported that Obama is not going to present a new unilateral American plan "because he believes it is impossible to do so."

The sources said Obama will not discuss Jerusalem with Netanyahu, where the Israeli premier will present Israel's position of accepting a Palestinian state on territories equal the territories Israel had occupied in 1967. Netanyahu will focus on security issues and guarantees, said the sources.

While the Palestinians reject all Netanyahu's demands, the opportunity for resuming the peace process is still slim, while the Palestinians are still looking forward to apply to the United Nations for obtaining an international recognition of an independent Palestinian state amid ongoing stalled peace process.

Source: Xinhua
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