Barack Obama Jets Out of Israel on High Note After Surprise Diplomatic Win

Turkey Breakthrough Caps Trip — Palestinians Grumble

Hasta La Vista: Barack Obama leaves Israel after a trip that analysts called a success — although expectations were set deliberately low.
getty images
Hasta La Vista: Barack Obama leaves Israel after a trip that analysts called a success — although expectations were set deliberately low.

By Reuters

Published March 22, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

President Barack Obama flew out of Israel in a duststorm on Friday, leaving behind a trail of symbolic gestures and fine oratory that should help preserve the status quo at a time of regional upheaval.

In an unexpected diplomatic flourish, he also facilitated a surprise telephone call between the prime ministers of Israel and Turkey, putting two U.S. allies firmly on track to revive a once close relationship that had become badly frayed.

Obama set such low expectations for the three-day trip that he can easily proclaim it is mission accomplished, having wooed sceptical Israelis, eased their fears over Iran and shown Palestinians that he had not forgotten their aspirations.

True, many Palestinians remained disillusioned, feeling that Obama had buckled to Israeli pressure and backtracked from his previous demands for a halt to Jewish settlement building in the occupied West Bank on land they want for a future state.

But after a bruising first term of failed Middle East diplomacy, Obama’s prime concern seems to be that the situation does not get any worse, while keeping alive slender hopes that a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is still possible.

“This visit marks a resumption of American attention to the conflict, which is very important after two years of utter absence from the scene,” said Ghassan al-Khatib, an academic and a former Palestinian government spokesman.

“It probably won’t lead to any new negotiations, which in any case would be meaningless given the huge gulf between the two sides. But it might bring some accountability to the Israelis.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared highly satisfied by the public show of joviality displayed by Obama during their meetings, dispelling the frosty scowls and sniping that marked encounters over the previous four years.

“The atmosphere was much better than in all their meetings before,” said a senior Israeli official. “He gave the impression that he really wanted to start afresh,” he said of Obama.

IRAN CONNECTIONS

Obama has already spent more time talking to Netanyahu than to any other world leader, according to the White House, and the pair put several more hours on the clock through this week.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.