Snap Fact #251
President Obama Continues to Work for a Just and Sustainable Israeli-Palestinian Peace!
Since the onset of his term, President Obama has used his auspices to promote a just and sustainable peace settlement between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors. This is indeed a formidable challenge, if not a seemingly impossible one, it has eluded so many before him. However, our President continues his efforts undaunted, despite all the complexities of the situation and the entrenched disagreements from both sides.
Recently, there has been support for resumed peace talks. U.S.-brokered peace talks collapsed in 2010 after Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu refused to extend a partial moratorium on construction in West Bank settlements.
The so-called Quartet, comprised of the U.S., the U.N., the European Union, and Russia, called on Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) to resume peace negotiations. This followed the failure of the PA to obtain U.N. membership in September 2011, when President Abbas presented an application for membership to the U.N. Secretary-General. In October 2011, Netanyahu’s office indicated that Israel welcomed the Quartet’s call for direct negotiations without preconditions and called on the PA to do the same without delay. In April of 2012, a meeting was held with a Palestinian delegation in Jerusalem at which time a letter from Abbas was delivered to Netanyahu. After the meeting, a joint statement indicated both sides hope that the exchange of letters will help find a way to advance peace. This was a small crack in a door that had been closed tight for 2 years.
The Quartet also held a meeting in April 2012 after which they noted with concern the increasing fragility of developments on the ground and called on the parties to work together constructively to take concrete steps to address the PA’s fiscal challenges, preserve and build on the PA’s institutional gains, and expand economic opportunities for the Palestinian people. It should be noted that the two-state solution espoused by both the Bush and Obama Administrations requires a viable PA to live amicably with its Israeli neighbor.
The PA’s decision to ask the U.N. for statehood recognition, without making a peace agreement with Israel, was opposed by both Israel and the U.S. The incident provoked some Republican members of Congress to put a hold on a $192 million aid commitment package to the Palestinians. Subsequently, Congress released about $134 million of that package with the help of Netanyahu’s intervention. He urged members of Congress visiting Israel not to object to the aid because the money would be used for training Palestinian police officers who work closely with the Israeli government. In April 2012, Obama overrode the balance of the hold and released the remaining $58.4 million of the package stating that the aid was important to the security interests of the U.S.