If less is less, that’s still an improvement

The Obama administration appears to be facing up to reality in the Middle East:

With the Palestinians refusing to return to the negotiations, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu not calling for a complete settlement freeze and the Arab world declining to make any gestures to Israel, the current sense in Jerusalem is that the U.S. is scaling back its intensive involvement in the diplomatic process.

This view is reinforced by the fact that George Mitchell, President Obama’s envoy to the Middle East, has not come calling in the region for more than a month and is not expected back until next month. After Netanyahu announced Israel’s housing moratorium two weeks ago, it was expected that Mitchell would promptly visit the region to see if this unilateral concession would generate any positive signs from the Palestinians or other Arab players. But no visit was forthcoming. The administration apparently recognized that depth of Arab intransigence.
This doesn’t mean that the Obama will abandon his efforts to encourage negotiations, only that we are scaling back for the moment and perhaps waiting to see what transpires in the meantime. For example, it is not clear whether PA President Mahmoud Abbas will step down, as he has threatened to do.
The U.S. is probably hoping that “less “will prove to be “more.” In any event, it can hardly be less than what more has been during the past 11 months.


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