Lee Smith devoted his weekly column at Tablet to a worthwhile symposium on Obama's foreign policy in the Middle East. Particularly of interest are the responses given by Elliott Abrams and Dore Gold.
The Obama Administration appears to have three basic premises about the Middle East. The first is that the key issue in the entire Middle East is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The second is that it is a territorial conflict that can be resolved in essence by Israeli concessions. The third is that the central function of the United States is to serve as the PLO’s lawyer to broker those concessions so that an agreement can be signed. I think these premises are all wrong.
Clearly the Obama Administration came to office with very different conceptions about the Middle East than many Israeli governments. This administration stressed the Palestinian issue as the key to regional stability while Israel was increasingly focusing on Iran as the main source of Middle Eastern conflict that had to be addressed first. The Israelis came to the peace process with the keen sense that five prime ministers prior to Benjamin Netanyahu had tried to reach a final-status peace agreement and were unable to do so, and therefore it was necessary to reassess how peacemaking might be conducted differently. In Washington more broadly there had been a tendency to accept the received legacy of Camp David and Taba without the same reservations that you would find in Israel.
Read it here.