Saudi Arabia wants US to pressure Israel on peace in the Middle East
Despite a string of visits this month from leaders in the Middle East, most recently King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, peace in the region remains an unsolvable puzzle for the Obama administration.
One week before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits President Obama, Saudi King Abdullah made a stop of his own at the White House. Among his messages: You must put more pressure on the Israelis, Mr. President, if your peace initiative for the Middle East is to come to fruition.Skip to next paragraph
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But Obama’s string of Middle East visitors – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was at the White House June 9 – will have given the president a pretty good idea of what, if anything, is to be accomplished by pushing ahead on Middle East diplomacy in the coming months.
“The administration sees this as a string of meetings, concluding with next week’s visit by Prime Minister Netanyahu, that won’t just take a reading of the environment but will be able to help move the peace negotiations along,” says James Phillips, senior research fellow for Middle Eastern affairs at the Heritage Foundation in Washington.
But what Obama and his team are more likely to confront, Mr. Phillips says, are the stark differences that continue to make Mideast peace an unsolvable puzzle for the administration.
Impatience with the pace of negotiations
“It’s no secret that the Saudis have expressed their impatience with the pace of peace negotiations, and believe that the only way to change that is for the administration to put even more pressure on Israel,” he says.
Then there is Netanyahu, who is also impatient with the US, but for a different reason.
“The Israeli leader has held since the beginning of his government that Iran is the most urgent problem facing Israel and the international community,” Phillips says. “They [in the Israeli government] feel Obama has been slow to grasp just how urgent the threat is.”