Opinion Brief

Obama's settlement stand: The end of Mideast peace talks?

Obama gently scolds Israel for expanding settlements in East Jerusalem. Is there any hope left for the talks between Netanyahu and Abbas?

President Obama says he is "concerned" about Israel's decision to go ahead with plans to build 1,000 new homes in contested East Jerusalem — one of the clearest indications yet that the recently renewed Mideast peace push is in trouble. Obama, who is in the middle of a nine-day trip through Asia, insists that the talks he jumpstarted in September between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas should continue. But is his criticism of Israel a sign that the peace process has failed yet again? (Watch a PBS report about the settlement plan)

Face it — the talks are over: "Barack Obama's cherished peace process has fallen apart," says Dominic Waghorn at Sky News. The Palestinians were already "so frustrated with the lack of progress they were threatening to give up on the idea of negotiations completely," and Israel's insistence on letting its settlement freeze expire pretty much halted everything. Obama's "mild rebuke" won't get the process "off its deathbed."
"The failure of Barack Obama's peace process"

Obama has to put his foot down: To save the talks, Obama has to prove he's an "honest broker," says M.J. Rosenberg at Talking Points Memo. And to do that he has to "demand that the settlement insanity stop now." Netanyahu's latest settlement announcement was clearly "timed to kill off U.S.-sponsored negotiations" — as was his last one, which was made while Vice President Biden was visiting Israel — but Obama has enough leverage to fight back if he wants to.
"Netanyahu sticks it to Obama ... again"

Netanyahu is the one who has to change: Benjamin Netanyahu is the one in the hot seat, not Obama, says Robert M. Danin at the Los Angeles Times. He doesn't want to play ball with the Palestinians until there is a "sense of an imminent breakthrough," because he's afraid he'll lose domestic support. But what he, and Israelis, should be more concerned about is that Israel's hardline stance on settlements and its treatment of the Palestinians is leading to Israel's "increased delegitimization" in the eyes of the world.
"Where is Israel's peace plan?"

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