The unending struggles of the Israel-Palestine conflict is the latest issue on President Obama's mind.
President Obama has arranged a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas tomorrow at the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York, after which he will be giving a speech to the U.N. on, among other things, peace in the Middle East and the "opportunity" for stability with both Israel and Palestine at the negotiation table. Obama will also be hosting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House next Monday.
It is the first time that Obama is meeting with either leader since the resumption of direct negotiations and peace talks between Israel and Palestine in July, and Secretary of State John Kerry has also met with both Abbas and Netanyahu recently. It is the first time that these two nations have engaged in peace talks in almost five years.
First and foremost, these meetings are a symbolic statement of support from the U.S. towards peace between the two countries. Currently, the U.S. is brokering negotiations, and the plan is to have a peaceful agreement at the end of nine months.
However, whether or not these meetings will be influential depends largely upon whether or not this round of peace talks is sustainable. There have been a few recent successes, namely the Israeli release of 26 Palestinian prisoners in August, but they are far outnumbered by complaints. Palestine is worried about both Israeli violence and about their continued development of Palestinian territory. Meanwhile, Israel is reeling from this weekend's attacks on Israeli soldiers (some unarmed) by Palestinians. Both Abbas and Netanyahu have been pressured by their people to shut down the peace talks.
Americans seem to be very optimistic about the current nine-month-plan, but both Israelis and Palestinians are much less so. In this upcoming week, President Obama will no doubt be doing his best to emphasize the importance of continued negotiations in the region to both leaders, and whether or not he succeeds may well determine the near future of peace between the two countries.