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Obama must act decisively to foster Mideast peace

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Abigail Sellman
June 11, 2010

The conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbors has been ongoing for over 60 years. Since the 2009 inauguration, the Obama administration has shown its inexperience in handling this conflict.


As professor Bernard Reich of George Washington University stated, this was the first foreign policy issue the administration focused on, and 15 months later we haven’t gotten anywhere.


Clearly, proposed proximity talks between Israelis and Palestinians won’t lead to peace anytime soon. This could be in part due to growing mistrust of the Obama administration by Israelis and Palestinians. David Schenker from the Washington Institute of Near East Policy described this as “profound disappointment.”


The president has made many statements reaching out to the Arab world and continuing U.S. support for Israel, but none has formed into action. Now, Mideast conflict is becoming even more prevalent because of the increasing threat of Iranian nuclear weapons. Before anything else, the Obama administration must take harsher action against Iran. This will not only help deter the threat of a Mideast arms race but control the smuggling of weapons out of Iran and lessen the threat of Israel’s militant neighbors. It will also help restore trust in the U.S. government.


After this threat is decreased, the Obama administration should focus on mediating talks between Israelis and Palestinians. When mediating, the administration must remain, as Ambassador Hussein Hassouna of the Arab League stated, an “impartial broker” and request sacrifices from both sides. For Israel, this would mean stopping the building of certain settlements in occupied territories. For Palestine, it would mean agreeing to a two-state solution and recognizing Israel’s right to exist.


Most experts in Washington agree that with the right policies and persistence, the U.S. is the one country that could help create a climate of peace in the Mideast.


Abigail Sellman wrote this as part of Washington Seminar at Janesville Parker High School.

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