Probably not the reaction President Obama was hoping for: Both Israeli and Palestinian leaders sharply criticized the Thursday speech in which Obama called for renewed Middle East peace talks. Hamas, the militant Islamist movement that runs Gaza, was angered by Obama's rejection of a bid to get the United Nations to recognize Palestinian statehood, and called his address "a total failure." Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is meeting with Obama in Washington on Friday, said Obama's proposal to return to the boundaries that were in place before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war — with some mutually agreed land swaps — would leave Israel with "indefensible" borders. Did Obama just destroy any hopes of a peace deal?
Throwing Israel under the bus won't bring peace: If anything, Obama has just set back the cause of peace, says William A. Jacobson at Legal Insurrection. The indefensible 1967 borders should not even enter the equation — they "simply were the armistice lines after the Arabs failed to drive the Jews into the sea." Obama is siding with the Palestinians' territorial demands, "without the Palestinians having to give anything in return," and fueled "the unacceptable narrative that Israel is the problem."
"Obama — Israel must withdraw to 1967 borders with land swaps"
Obama offered a fair starting point: Obama's vision contains plenty to "please and annoy almost all concerned parties," says Hussein Ibish in Foreign Policy. "But it was not a bad step forward." Obama needed to place the U.S. "more on the side of the aspirations of the Arab peoples than it ever has been in the past." He didn't reject, as Israel has, the Palestinian deal to form a unity government that includes Hamas, but he did put the onus on the Palestinians to demonstrate a "commitment to peace with Israel and the rejection of violence."
"Will Obama's speech change anything?"
To achieve real peace, the president must do more: It's about time Obama faced this problem head on, says The New York Times in an editorial. But his speech included "no game-changing proposal." Goading an ally like Israel to take risks won't be enough to break the stalemate. "Washington and its allies need to put a map on the table and challenge both sides to resume negotiations." That's "the best chance for peace."
"Peace and change"