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al-Quds, Palestine

Upcoming Trip for
American Special Envoy


Obama has not yet been inaugurated, and already he has sent his special envoy to the region. This is an indication that the neutrality about which some have speculated is unlikely, at least at this stage.

Translated By Robert Mogielnicki

8 January 2013

Edited by Hana Livingston


Palestine - al-Quds - Original Article (Arabic)

World reports say that the American special envoy to our region, David Hale, will undertake a trip to the Middle East on Jan. 8-10. This will be his first trip since President Obama’s re-election. The purpose of the trip will probably be to investigate the developments that have occurred over the last few months.

There is a great deal of uncertainty regarding the method that the United States will use to reach a peaceful settlement of the conflict in the Middle East. This is in light of the Israeli intransigence that brought the peace process to a dead end during Obama's first term, during which he tried to pave the way toward peace with effective negotiations. In the beginning, he demanded that Israel acknowledge a two-state solution and end settlements on occupied Palestinian lands. But the Israeli president, Benjamin Netanyahu, is clinging to settlement expansion and refuses to freeze settlements just to jump-start negotiations.

Even though the United States voted against Palestine’s acquisition of non-member status in the United Nations and did not condemn Israeli settlements in the West Bank, there is still a role for America to play. Palestinians hope that America’s influence can be fair and effective in getting the peace process moving in the region. It is impossible for the United States to avoid or ignore this role, especially since it is an important international actor in the Middle East and in other parts of the world.

It is true that many factors govern this role. Pro-Israeli lobbies in the United States exert pressure through Congress, the legislative branch, in order to provide political safety nets for Israel. But it is possible for the United States to counter that pressure and move positively toward a solution that is accepted by both Palestine and the international community. The latter has had enough with the stagnation of the Palestinian issue over the last six decades.

There are many speculations and analyses concerning the approaches that the American administration has taken toward the Middle East issue. Some think the administration has given up on the issue altogether because its previous efforts have led nowhere. Yet others say that the Obama administration will pursue a fierce strategy of neutrality, meaning that it will not intervene in any significant way. Instead it will leave it to Europe to initiate meaningful steps in the United Nations, while Washington will be satisfied with abstaining from voting, operating on the assumption that silence says a lot.

What can be observed from the dispatch of Special Envoy Hale is that the Obama administration does not intend to completely abandon its efforts in mediating between the Palestinian and Israeli sides. Obama has not yet been inaugurated, and already he has sent his special envoy to the region. This is an indication that the neutrality about which some have speculated is unlikely, at least at this stage. The coming weeks and months will unequivocally determine the parameters of the American approach to the crisis. Furthermore, they will determine the possibility of developing serious American initiatives to solve the current impasse and to jump-start what remains of the peace process.



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