Saturday, August 28, 2010

But can he?

A glittering event, a magnificent photo opportunity. The President of the US, The Prime Minister of Israel, the Head of the Palestinian Authority, assorted Arab leaders, very many TV cameras. A festive launch of the negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. And a clear deadline - within a year the negotiations will be concluded, and there will be an agreement, and there will be peace.

It has happened before. In November 2007, President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice convened the leaders at Annapolis, and the speeches were delivered, and the cameras clicked and transmitted everything live all over the world. And then Bush left the parties alone, to talk to each other, and lay down for a good nap after an excellent meal prepared by the White House cooks. And the parties talked and talked and talked, and meantime the bulldozers worked full steam and the settlements grew apace and the occupation continued to trample the Palestinians to the ground. And a year after the grand conference, there was no peace to be signed. One year after Annapolis, the government of Israel launched an offensive on the Gaza Strip and killed 1300 Palestinians, including hundreds of children.

But this time it will not be like that. It will be completely different. Something has changed. The President of the United States has changed. Barack Hussein Obama is not George W. Bush. He has promised to completely change Bush's policies in all spheres, internal and external. That is why he was elected. He will not settle for an empty photo opportunity. He will take personal charge, and push and pressure with all his force - if not immediately after the conference, at least after the Congressional elections in November. He will not allow the occupation to go on and the settlements to continue growing. When Obama makes a promise he keeps it, by hook or by crook. If Obama promises a peace agreement by September 2011, that's exactly what is going to happen. "Yes, we can!".

Maybe. But Obama still has to prove that he really can.