As part of a high profile interview with Time Magazine, President Obama conceded that the expectations he raised for an imminent solution to the long-standing Israel-Palestinian conflict were unrealistic, and that breakthroughs were unlikely.
“This is just really hard,” Obama admitted, “even for a guy like George Mitchell.” The president had suggested when he took office that the time was right for a two-state solution and that it would be a relatively simple matter to get the move started.
Despite brimming with confidence, the administration spent the summer pressuring Israel to freeze settlement expansion, only to give up in August amid growing political pressure. This led to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu agreeing to restart the peace talks, but only so long as the Palestinians abandoned every single demand they had.
One year after taking office little has been accomplished, and officials at home and abroad are acknowledging that the prospect of peace talks starting any time soon is “slim” at best. Yesterday Netanyahu even demanded that the Palestinians accept a permanent Israeli occupation as a prerequisite for Israel to consider allowing a nominally independent Palestinian state in the West Bank. If anything, the chances for peace seem worse now than a year ago.