Last night, after midnight, President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu finally met. Over here it is largely being called 'the embarrassment and the meeting'.
Against a background of difficulties in arranging this meeting, Israel's head of State is rumored to be upset that there was no red carpet welcome for him. But critics are saying this is no wonder after he has apparently brought Palestinian Authority Chairman Mohmoud Abbas to the point of resignation and reportedly has spoken disapproving words of Mr. Obama – who's credibility is being called into question by the lack of cooperation he can garner in the Prime Minister.
The meeting was apparently approved at the last minute because the US administration tried to cause Mr. Netanyahu to commit to the peace process. That hasn't been explicitly said – so without media presence or press briefing and behind closed doors, the two meet – albeit for 90 minuets as opposed to the 25 minuets that were scheduled.
Mr. Netanyahu is saying that he is ready to offer the Palestinians far-reaching concessions. He also claims to be serious in this, and is willing to rein in West Bank settlement construction. He believes that no other Israeli Government made the steps that he is willing to take – and at that – he'll be generous.
So whats the problem then?
Despite what Mr. Netanyahu is saying, maybe the Israeli leadership (let alone the public) is not ready for diplomatic decisions. The Palestinians too, are not ready for such decisions. And if peace were made with the Palestinians – the next step would be peace with the Arab world – are they ready?
What we got right now is division among the Israeli people, divisions among the Palestinian people, and unrest in the moderate Arab countries.
And who's going to financially pay for the demands of such a peace? America is not ready, nor Europe. So maybe people are settling for second best by continuing, as has been the case for decades, a peace process – rather than peace. No doubt great strides were taken with the agreements with both Egypt and Jordan – but the core issues remain, land for peace, Palestinian recognition, Israeli security, and the status of refugees.
Middle East Correspondent