News24

Gaza crisis underlines Obama's ME dilemma

2012-11-20 13:00

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.

Comments
  • rinus.groeneveld.7 - 2012-11-20 13:17

    Israel is testing their only "sponsor". He should give them the middle finger....

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-11-20 13:51

      Israel was created in 1948 from 52% of the land formerly occupied by the Jewish and Palestinian people, and Palestine 43%. Most of the Israeli territory was the Negev Desert. Jerusalem fell into neither territory. Palestinians with their unelected, self-serving neighbors declared war on Israel the very next day. In the 1960's they even invaded Israel twice. Full military invasions. The result: Israel survived and pushed them back, gaining territory in the process. This is the origin of what you wrongly call "stealing land". There have been almost daily attacks by Palestinians, incited by their self-serving unelected backers. Palestinians even teach their children at Kindergarten to attack Israel, rather than be peaceful. Children. Kindergarten. From day one, and even today it's wage war on Israel. Israel defends herself. Yes sometimes going too far, which is unacceptable, but self-defense nonetheless. All that needs to happen is for Palestinians to choose peace side by side with Israel. This is more likely going forward now because the unelected dictators are being removed from power by their people, one by one. They will no longer use the Palestinians for their own internal political ploys.

      gianni.blayse - 2012-11-20 15:48

      hey fred you are the problem. its non-israelis and diaspora jews, and people who do not live there or never have, who think their opinion counts and whose blind zionism causes so much pain in the region. israel and the idf are bullies acting on the whim of fools in the diaspora like you, who think that because you are jewish that you have a say in what happens in israel. israel is a secular state. your average israelis is non-religous and has a chuckle over people like you who think that israel is your holy homeland. open your eyes to the fact that zionism is irrelevant (why should some poor russian jew who cares nothing for judaism get to live a better life in isreal than palestians who have been there for decades), your opinion is irrelevant, and a huge number of israelis will be the first to admit that they live in a police state, where racism and bullying by the idf are common practice, and disenfranchised palestinians live in a third world farce, cut off and excluded from the rest of the world by israel.

  • ShottaZee - 2012-11-20 13:25

    Obama is a bloody sell-out, bowing down to the Zionists.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-11-20 13:51

      Such a boring and faulty perspective that has led to sixty years of Palestinian suffering. Think about it rather than simply regurgitate street rhetoric that the new generation of the Middle East has already rejected.

      gianni.blayse - 2012-11-20 14:18

      hey fred why dont you think about it rather than regurgitating main stream media rhetoric. I would rather regurgitate 'street'rhetoric as you say than brainwashing, hegemonic, rubbish that manipulates the masses

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-11-20 14:32

      Even though it's the same rhetoric that's been plied for sixty years by the unelected dictators of the region for their own selfish reasons and who are being removed from power one by one by their populations? Not smart. You are part of the problem, not the solution.

      gianni.blayse - 2012-11-20 15:38

      hey fred, clever guy - YOU are the problem. its non-israelis and diaspora jews, and people who do not live there or never have, who think their opinion counts and whose blind zionism causes so much pain in the region. israel and the idf are bullies acting on the whim of fools in the diaspora like you, who think that because you are jewish that you have a say in what happens in israel. israel is a secular state. your average israelis is non-religous and has a chuckle over people like you who think that israel is your holy homeland. open your eyes to the fact that zionism is irrelevant (why should some poor russian jew who cares nothing for judaism get to live a better life in isreal than palestians who have been there for decades), your opinion is irrelevant, and a huge number of israelis will be the first to admit that they live in a police state, where racism and bullying by the idf are common practice, and disenfranchised palestinians live in a third world farce, cut off and excluded from the rest of the world by israel.

      gianni.blayse - 2012-11-20 15:48

      hey fred clever guy, YOU are the problem. its non-israelis and diaspora jews, and people who do not live there or never have, who think their opinion counts and whose blind zionism causes so much pain in the region. israel and the idf are bullies acting on the whim of fools in the diaspora like you, who think that because you are jewish that you have a say in what happens in israel. israel is a secular state. your average israelis is non-religous and has a chuckle over people like you who think that israel is your holy homeland. open your eyes to the fact that zionism is irrelevant (why should some poor russian jew who cares nothing for judaism get to live a better life in isreal than palestians who have been there for decades), your opinion is irrelevant, and a huge number of israelis will be the first to admit that they live in a police state, where racism and bullying by the idf are common practice, and disenfranchised palestinians live in a third world farce, cut off and excluded from the rest of the world by israel.

  • phumi.ntlabati - 2012-11-20 13:27

    I have long said that this Oprah Winfrey's and Jay Z's freind is a war monger and a lame duck war criminal. It is clear now even to the retards what Obama is all about, and he is no different from his masters! The people of the Middle-East should look to their freinds in the East for assistance! Barak Obama and that stooge of the UN, Ban Ki Moon, have failed the Palestinian peoples!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-11-20 13:47

      What will they find in the East? The worst human rights records of any countries on Earth. Wake up. How about they recognize the right of Israel TO EXIST and stop allowing themselves to be manipulated by the last few unelected dictators in the region who are abusing them.

      gianni.blayse - 2012-11-20 15:49

      you are the problem. its non-israelis and diaspora jews, and people who do not live there or never have, who think their opinion counts and whose blind zionism causes so much pain in the region. israel and the idf are bullies acting on the whim of fools in the diaspora like you, who think that because you are jewish that you have a say in what happens in israel. israel is a secular state. your average israelis is non-religous and has a chuckle over people like you who think that israel is your holy homeland. open your eyes to the fact that zionism is irrelevant (why should some poor russian jew who cares nothing for judaism get to live a better life in isreal than palestians who have been there for decades), your opinion is irrelevant, and a huge number of israelis will be the first to admit that they live in a police state, where racism and bullying by the idf are common practice, and disenfranchised palestinians live in a third world farce, cut off and excluded from the rest of the world by israel.

  • William - 2012-11-20 13:29

    Dear Mr Obama, are referring to these rocket attacks that Israeli television shows to their citizens and the world? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_7r39cq53U

      nazeem.majiet.7 - 2012-11-20 14:27

      Thank you for the link,the statistics and the opinion given was very interesting to know.Thank you once again.

  • peanutcluster - 2012-11-20 13:55

    You have to admire how the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) / Jewish lobby who represent less than 2% of the US population can wield so much power and influence over the Whitehouse! Kudos to them! The tail wagging the dog!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-11-20 14:36

      The Jewish lobby represents less than 2% of the US population? This doesn't even make sense. You're saying Jewish Americans are a Jewish lobby? What rubbish. I have yet to read a sensible post from you.

      doberman.love.1 - 2012-11-20 15:06

      It’s the Christians that support Israel, not the measly 7 million Jews... Some say the evangelical Christians who number 120 million are more pro-Israel than the Jews of the USA... Most American Hindus, Buddhists, Women’s right groups and gay communities also support the freedom & democracy that Israel stands for in comparison to the intolerance and war that Islam stands for.

      gianni.blayse - 2012-11-20 15:49

      you are the problem. its non-israelis and diaspora jews, and people who do not live there or never have, who think their opinion counts and whose blind zionism causes so much pain in the region. israel and the idf are bullies acting on the whim of fools in the diaspora like you, who think that because you are jewish that you have a say in what happens in israel. israel is a secular state. your average israelis is non-religous and has a chuckle over people like you who think that israel is your holy homeland. open your eyes to the fact that zionism is irrelevant (why should some poor russian jew who cares nothing for judaism get to live a better life in isreal than palestians who have been there for decades), your opinion is irrelevant, and a huge number of israelis will be the first to admit that they live in a police state, where racism and bullying by the idf are common practice, and disenfranchised palestinians live in a third world farce, cut off and excluded from the rest of the world by israel.

  • cyanideandhappiness - 2012-11-20 14:52

    Um, he is the US president, not the world president, there are way bigger problems at home! Technically speaking this conflict should have nothing to do with the US, but that's the point isn't it, the US and Israel are so in bed with each other that the US Government holds Israel's welfare as a higher priority than their own citizens!

  • Hakuna - 2012-11-20 15:49

    http://justworldnews.org/archives/003924.html

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