Barack Obama's Visit to Israel Fails To Ignite Faded Peace Hopes — On Either Side

Israelis and Palestinians United in Bleak Outlook

An Eternity Ago: Then-candidate Barack Obama meets with Israeli Pinhas Amar to see damage from Palestinian rockets in his home in Sderot. Amar was impressed with Obama, but has become disillusioned in the four years since.
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An Eternity Ago: Then-candidate Barack Obama meets with Israeli Pinhas Amar to see damage from Palestinian rockets in his home in Sderot. Amar was impressed with Obama, but has become disillusioned in the four years since.

By Reuters

Published March 14, 2013.
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Five years ago, a few months after a Palestinian rocket crashed through his kitchen ceiling, Pinhas Amar received a more welcome guest at his southern Israeli home - Barack Obama, then running for president of the United States.

Amar holds up a picture he now keeps in a back room - unframed and glued to thin cardboard with crumpled corners - of himself showing the missile damage to Obama. He was impressed by the candidate, he says. The president Obama became: less so.

“He promised me he would make sure there would be no more rockets,” said 53-year-old Amar, whose wife was injured in the December 2007 missile attack. “It is quieter today, but I am not optimistic. This calm will not last very long.”

If there is one thing that seems to unite Israelis and Palestinians days before Obama’s visit to Israel, the occupied West Bank and Jordan next week, it is their talk of broken promises and lack of hope that he will ever bring peace.

Across the frontier, in Gaza, Badiaa Anbar, 53, was demonstrating with other parents for the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Her own son, she said, was imprisoned 18 years ago for being affiliated with militants.

Despite initial pledges to work hard for a Palestinian state, Obama has turned out to be no different than any of his predecessors, she said.

“Obama’s promises were as deceiving as a mirage. None of these promises came true.”

ONLY WORDS

In his first term Obama started off by making peace between Israelis and Palestinians a top priority. His 2009 “new beginning” speech in Cairo raised Palestinian hopes of establishing a state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, territories Israel captured in a 1967 Middle East war.

But those hopes plunged when U.S.-brokered peace talks collapsed in 2010, only weeks after they began. Israel ignored Obama’s call to halt the construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank; the Palestinians refuse to talk as long as settlements are being built.

This time around Obama’s administration is wary of risking its credibility on efforts to revive talks. The White House has said there would be no launch of a diplomatic initiative during the trip.


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