Gaza crisis underlines Obama's ME dilemma

2012-11-20 13:00
President Barack Obama receives a gift from Saudi King Abdullah in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (File, AP)

President Barack Obama receives a gift from Saudi King Abdullah in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (File, AP) (Gerald Herbert)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - The new eruption of violence between Israel and Palestinian militants from Gaza is a stark reminder for newly re-elected President Barack Obama of unfinished business from his first term.

Obama's first trip after securing the White House was to Southeast Asia, underlining his determination to "pivot" US foreign policy away from Middle East woes and towards challenges and opportunities in the Pacific.

But, even has he tours Myanmar and Malaysia, Obama has once again been forced to keep up-to-date with goings on in Gaza, where Israeli strikes have killed more than 100 Palestinians within the last six days.

Washington has made it clear that it blames the Palestinian movement Hamas for the escalation, insisting that Israel has the right to defend itself from rocket attacks fired out of Gaza at civilian Israeli targets.

But Obama is also keen that the violence not get out of control, as the tension has made the delicate task of reorienting US regional policy in the wake of the Arab Spring revolts even more complicated.

"The president has been updated regularly," deputy White House national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters aboard Air Force One on the way to Cambodia from Myanmar.

Reaching out


Earlier, on a stop in Bangkok, Obama said: "Israel has every right to expect it does not have missiles fired into its territory. If that can be accomplished without a ramping up of military activity in Gaza, that is preferable.

"That is not just preferable for the people of Gaza, it is also preferable for Israelis because if Israeli troops are in Gaza, they are much more at risk of incurring fatalities or being wounded," he said.

The raids, launched after Gaza-based militants fired rockets into Israel, are the most widespread in the Strip since the December 2008 to January 2009 Israeli offensive that claimed the lives of 1 400 Palestinians.

When he first took office in January 2009, Obama promised to put the Mideast peace process back on track. He gave a landmark speech in Cairo, seen as reaching out a hand to the Muslim world.

Obama hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas at the White House in September 2010.

But talks fell apart three months later over the issue of Israeli settlements on territory Israel occupied during the 1967 Six Day War.

Egypt's role


Meanwhile, with the Israeli-Palestinian peace process effectively stalled, the wider region has seen a series of revolts that have, in some cases, brought Islamist governments to power, in others triggered violent conflict.

In the process, prominent US allies have been ousted.

Most prominent perhaps was Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak - a friend of Washington and a guarantor of the Camp David Accords.

His successor, Mohammed Morsi, sprang from the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood of which Hamas is an offshoot.

Obama spoke with Morsi twice last week to ask him to step in. He reiterated the message again in a call on Monday.

"The administration recognises the Egyptian government is in the best position to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas," said Haim Malka of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

"They're looking for the Egyptians to play a major role in mediating the end of the current crisis."

Proxy war

At the State Department, spokesperson Victoria Nuland refused to be drawn on whether Egypt was doing enough.

"I don't think it's helpful from this podium for us to be getting into the details of those conversations or to be giving individual interlocutors a grade on how they are doing," she said.

Jonathan Schanzer, vice-president of research at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies, sees the conflict in Gaza as proxy war between Iran - under fire for its nuclear programme - and the West.

"The fact that the United States and many European countries appear to give to Israel a green light to operate inside Gaza has something to do with the fact that we are now in a worldwide battle against Iran," he said.

"This is very much seen as a part of the strategic calculus from the West to say 'Yes, get rid of the Iranian nodes inside Gaza and make it clear that Iran cannot operate there'."

Domestically, more than four times as many Americans – 59% - support Israel compared with 13% who side with the Palestinians, according to a CNN-ORC International poll.

Read more on:    hamas  |  barack obama  |  mohammed morsi  |  gaza strip  |  israel  |  palestine  |  iran nuclear programme  |  nuclear  |  middle east peace  |  north africa

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
20 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

ANCYL: Not voting would be blasphemy

Not voting in the forthcoming elections would be blasphemy, the ANCYL says in a statement commemorating the 50th anniversary of struggle icon Nelson Mandela's Rivonia trial speech.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Curve 9360

The BlackBerry Curve 9360 smartphone comes preloaded with Blackberry OS7...

From R1595.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There may be a break through, either through quiet contemplative time to connect to your deep side or forced on you by...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.