Onus falls on Obama

President Barack Obama boards Marine One helicopter after a visit to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., Monday, March 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

After U.S. President Barack Obama and his Palestinian counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas, met Monday, the former said it was time to make some tough political decisions. But to whom was he speaking?

As chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Tuesday, no one has more to gain from the success of peace talks than the Palestinians, and similarly, no one has more to lose should they fail.

Like countless presidents and administrations before him, Obama is trying desperately to carve out a peace deal. But more than 60 years after the creation of the state of Israel, we are no closer to a resolution of the countless issues hindering the birth of a Palestinian state.

And as the years have passed, the Israelis have continued to treat the so-called Middle East peace process as a luxury, almost as if they are doing the Palestinians a favor by even attending, simultaneously building more settlements on occupied land and further curtailing and exhausting the rights and resources of Palestine and its people.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry set April as the deadline for implementing a “framework” for peace. But this seems as unachievable as ever, now that Israel has decided to introduce yet another condition for talks: The Palestinians must recognize Israel as a “Jewish state.” As if all the previous concessions Palestine made have not been enough; were it to achieve statehood today, it would be on land representing only 22 percent of its original territory.

For too long, the Palestinians have patiently waited on the U.S. and its attempts at brokering peace. Now is the time to tell Obama that the only tough decisions which have to be made are by him.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 19, 2014, on page 7.




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