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!
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • 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.