The Middle East, racked with dangerous and escalating crises, is desperately in need of international leadership. President Obama’s visit to Israel and Palestine presents an opportunity for the US to give the determined lead that is required.
If Obama is to succeed, he needs a coherent strategy to address all these crises, agreed by all major powers, including Russia. While this includes bold approaches to resolve both Iran and Syria, it also needs to bring about genuine negotiations to end the Israel-Palestinian conflict. As William Hague has said, 2013 may represent the last chance for the two-state solution. But Obama will need to persuade the new Israeli coalition to abandon its dreams of colonising the West Bank and to end the siege of Gaza. Palestinians will also need to present a united political position.
The price of failure will be acute. One Israeli commentator described the situation as “Israelis sipping cappuccinos on the edge of a volcano”. While it may be politically convenient for Obama to back off because the chances of success are slim, the risks of failure are even greater.
Andy Love MP
Co-chair, Caabu (Council for Arab-British Understanding)
First published in the Guardian