Thursday, September 24, 2009

Stalemate In The Middle East

The leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority have demanded that the other change their position before proper negotiations about a peace deal can take place. Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas were talking separately after a meeting with President Obama in New York on Tuesday, a meeting that appears to have achieved absolutely nothing.

Not that it was expected to. For decades the world has looked to the US President to push things forward in the Israel/Palestine conflict. This is because the US is by far Israel's biggest ally and supporter, and so the US President is just about the only outside person the Israeli government generally listens to. Some presidents have spent more time on this issue than others, but usually most of them at least attempt to make some sort of progress, even George W Bush had his ill-fated 'roadmap' to peace, which sadly proved about as effective as a broken satnav.

Barack Obama may yet devote time and energy to the problem, but he's got plenty of other issues to deal with just now. Healthcare is the main one. There's also Afghanistan. So not much of a look in for Israel/Palestine, and with the hardline Mr Netanyahu telling anyone who'll listen that the possibility of Iran developing a nuclear weapon is by far the most important threat to Israel, there doesn't seem to be much desire from the Israeli side to get down to some serious talking with the Palestinians. As for Mr Abbas, he doesn't speak for Hamas which runs the Gaza Strip, so he can hardly claim to represent the whole Palestinian population. So with the focus of the main players firmly elsewhere, don't expect much progress towards restarting the seemingly never ending 'peace process' for some time yet.

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