Yediot Ahronot obtained a copy of President Obama’s upcoming Middle East speech, its website Ynet reports. The speech, to be delivered at 6 p.m., will
call on Jerusalem and Ramallah to reignite the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, saying it is the only way to achieve viable peace. Obama stands to demand the Palestinian Authority recognize Israel as the Jewish state, and that the Palestinians unequivocally abandon terror. He is also likely to stress Israel must cease any settlement expansion in the West Bank and further avoid any act which could be construed as changing the status quo on the ground. The subject of Jerusalem also stands to be included in the American president’s speech: Washington sees the city as the capital of both Israel and the Palestinian state, with its east Jerusalem neighborhoods – which are largely populated by Palestinians – under the PA’s sovereignty, and its Jewish neighborhoods under Israeli sovereignty.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner is quoted as saying Washington is “not so pessimistic.” Haaretz’s Yossi Verter suggests why. He writes that Bibi’s Knesset speech yesterday, despite its hawkish tone, moves in a dovish direction, explicitly offering to give up settlements outside the major settlement blocs and demanding Israeli military presence along the Jordan River — as opposed to full Israeli control of the Jordan Valley, his previous demand.
Jonathan Jeremy “J.J.” Goldberg is editor-at-large of the Forward, where he served as editor in chief for seven years (2000-2007).