TEL AVIV – Ahead of the two month interregnum following the U.S. elections in November, Israel is confident that any last ditch Mideast effort from President Barack Obama before leaving office will stay true to what he said at the UN in 2011: “Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations.”
The topic of Obama’s intentions for the Middle East was discussed at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s home in Caesarea on Sunday with a blue-ribbon, bipartisan delegation of high-ranking former national security officials, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Obama may resort to giving a speech delineating what he thinks should be the conditions of a peace deal to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The worst case scenario for Israel is if the outgoing president decides to either support or not veto a new UN resolution on the Mideast.
In either scenario, Israel is concerned that Obama’s action may lead to a situation in which a solution to the conflict is imposed from without rather than through negotiations between the two sides.
In recent days, however, Israeli government officials have been repeating Obama’s views on Palestinian statehood as expressed in his 2011 speech to the UN General Assembly.
“Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations – if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now,” he said.
“Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians who must live side by side. Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians – not us – who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them: On borders and on security, on refugees and Jerusalem.”
One official said the speech proves it is unlikely Obama will try to pull a rabbit out of a hat at the last moment.
“That speech was clear and unequivocal, and hopefully there will not be any surprises,” the official said.
According to the report, Mideast negotiator Dennis Ross, part of the delegation that met with Netanyahu on Sunday, said he did not believe the “administration will make a big effort at the Security Council,” because it knows doing so may cause more harm than good.
Ross said Obama is likely to deliver a Middle East speech, but “presidents giving speeches at the end of a term frankly don’t have that big of an impact on anybody.”
The delegation, comprised of both Republican and Democratic national security and Middle East experts, also met with officials from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the Palestinian Authority.