Obama Preparing Middle East Peace Plan

What's in it, when it's coming, who supports it, who's against

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After weeks of chilly relations between the U.S. and Israel over Israeli settlements, reports are emerging that President Obama may be preparing to announce a peace plan for the Israel-Palestine conflict. Long pursued by U.S. presidents as the holy grail of foreign policy accomplishments,  such a proposal from the Obama camp would be an ambitious step. Is he really going forward? And what would the plan say?

  • What's In It, When It's Coming  First reporting the possible plan, the Washington Post's David Ignatius wrote, "an American plan, if launched, would build upon past progress on such issues as borders, the 'right of return' for Palestinian refugees and the status of Jerusalem. ... The American peace plan would be linked with the issue of confronting Iran, which is Israel's top priority." As for when the plan would appear, "The White House is considering detailed interagency talks to frame the strategy and form a political consensus for it. ... the administration could formally launch the Middle East initiative by this fall."
  • Who's For It, Who's Against  The L.A. Times' Paul Richter reports, "the idea has advocates within the Obama administration. The idea of a forceful U.S. intervention has long been popular with some Arabs, and some Mideast experts in the United States. But it has generally alarmed Israelis and many of their American supporters, who fear that such pressure could force Israelis to compromise their security. U.S. officials said the administration remains focused on trying to coax Israeli and Palestinian leaders to participate in indirect peace talks, with American diplomats serving as intermediaries."
  • Why Obama's Getting Involved  The New York Times' Helene Cooper analyzes, "The fact that Mr. Obama was willing to have such an impromptu discussion with former advisers illustrates his increasing frustration with the foot-dragging over Middle East peace talks, and a growing sense that he may have to present a specific plan, rather than wait for the two sides to come to any sort of agreement. ... a consensus appears to be growing, both within the administration and among outside advisers to the White House, that Mr. Obama will have to consider suggesting a solution to get the two sides moving."
  • This Explains U.S.-Israel Chill  Foreign Policy's Daniel Levy sees the nine-dimensional chess. "In a way, everything the Obama administration has done on the issue to date could be retroactively explained as preparation for this great moment of pivoting to a plan - 'we sincerely tried to do everything to build confidence, especially on settlements, but it is clear that the only answer is to know where Israel ends and where Palestine begins, and therefore to delineate a border.'"
  • Could Just Be a Head Fake  Politico's Laura Rozen sighs, "I am skeptical that this is anything more than messaging and outside-advocacy at this point. Nothing I have heard from officials would indicate that the U.S. is close to putting out its plan, if it has even formulated one, and is still stuck trying to get proximity talks launched."
  • Will Only Weaken Ties With Israel  The Weekly Standard's Elliott Abrams seethes, "It is a threat against Israel by the Obama administration and particularly by National Security Advisor James Jones." He says the failure of Israel and Palestine to reach a peace agreement is, somehow, Obama's fault. "The inability of Israelis and Palestinians to get to the negotiating table is, in this administration, an iatrogenic disease: Our diplomatic doctors have caused it."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.