In President Obama's much-discussed speech
to the United Nations General Assembly, he condemned Israel's settlements on the West Bank. "We continue to emphasize that America does not
accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements," he said.
Obama's sharp, unequivocal language, which laid out firm White House positions, was a departure from the softer U.S.-Israel-Palestine talks held earlier
that day, which were largely dubbed a flop
. Even if Obama failed at progressing the Israel-Palestine peace process at the White House summit, some pundits think his speech took a clear step forward.
- Hard Line on Israeli Settlements M.J. Rosenberg of Talking Points Memo lauded
Obama's hard line on Israeli settlement. "Anyone who thought that
President Obama was backing away from his
commitment to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by moving away from
the emphasis on a settlement freeze has already been proven wrong," he
wrote. "This may be one of the strongest Presidential pronouncements on
need to implement the two-state solution and end the occupation.
Presidents traditionally avoid references to the "occupation" and to
"Jerusalem" as a final status issue that must be confronted."
- Asserts Leadership on Israel-Palestine Marc Lynch praised
Obama's position as "tough, even-handed, and clear." Obama, Lynch said,
demonstrated that he is "more committed than ever to doing exactly what
he said he would do and
who is more -- not less -- inclined to demonstrate his determination to
play the role of even-handed broker." Lynch dismissed those who said
Obama's Israel-Palestine talks had been a failure. "Lord knows I'm not optimistic about final status negotiations--I'm
never especially optimistic--but in this instance I think a lot of
people are being blinded by shiny flashing lights and missing what's
really going on."
Finally Acknowledged Israel's Jewishness Jeffrey Goldberg pointed out
Obama's firm declaration that Israel is a "Jewish state," a significant
departure. "What was news was Obama's clear description of Israel as a
'Jewish state,'" Goldberg wrote. "He's laying down a marker that
Israel's enemies don't like at all. Even Avigdor Lieberman liked the
line." Goldberg also noted that Bush, like Obama, had called the West
Bank settlements an "occupation."
- Mistake to Engage Palestine Jennifer Rubin warned
that Obama may promote the legitimacy of the Palestinian cause. "By
elevating the issue of settlements, Obama only played into the
Palestinians' natural inclination toward rejectionism and
obstructionism," she wrote. "But let’s be candid: the Palestinians are
position to make a deal—or discuss a deal. What promise could they give
about terrorism? What offer of recognition would they be empowered to
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