In May of 2009 reports were coming out of President Obama’s support for Palestinian statehood. There were restrictions, to be sure, but the call for a contiguous Palestinian state was seen as a major move, unheard of for a US President.
Two years later, President Obama is planning to give another speech Thursday night, on the eve of a state visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The new speech is said to be a significant retreat, with the president openly condemning the Palestinian bid for statehood and issuing new demands to the Palestinian Authority.
The two year interim between the two policy positions has been a rocky one, with the US starting a mostly unproductive indirect negotiation system that was replaced by an extremely brief direct negotiation. This too collapsed in September when Israel began expanding its settlements again, and the process had been dead ever since.
President Obama is expected once again to call on Israel to “cease settlement expansion,” even though Netanyahu and other top Israeli officials have ruled out ever allowing another freeze. Though the State Department denied being “pessimistic” about the peace process, the speech seems to be mostly an admission of failure, backing off the positions that would have ended with a two-state solution and replacing it with, primarily, demands that the Palestinian Authority recognize Israel as a “Jewish” state.