September deadlines loom for Israel as Peres and Obama will meet
Obama had set a September goal for some kind of Middle East agreement. With Palestinians now weighing the declaration of a state, Israel's Shimon Peres has much to discuss at the White House.
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When Mr. Obama relaunched Middle East peace talks last September, he set a goal of reaching some kind of agreement within a year. The administration has never said the president has relinquished that goal, even as the unforeseen "Arab spring" has roiled the region.
But perhaps the bigger problem for Israel is a Palestinian plan, born of frustration over a moribund peace process, to leapfrog the model of incremental progress toward Palestinian statehood by simply having a Palestinian state declared at September’s gathering of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Today Israel occupies Palestinian “territories,” but the nightmare for Israel is that it would suddenly find itself occupying an independent member of the United Nations, and an Arab one at that. One need only recall how the world looked upon Saddam Hussein’s occupation of an independent Kuwait to understand the alarm bells some Israeli politicians are sounding.
US quiet on statehood option
The Obama administration has said in the past that it rejects as unhelpful any unilateral actions by either side in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but so far the administration has been quiet on how it would approach a declaration of Palestinian statehood.
White House officials say Obama will discuss regional security and the Mideast turmoil with Mr. Peres, as well as ideas for getting the peace process moving again. But the challenges waiting in September are also a certain, if uncomfortable, agenda item.