I am the Guest on "Rosner's Domain" this week, assessing the impact of Obama in the Middle East. A sample:
Using your experience and familiarity with Washington's foreign policy elite, how would you describe the new Obama team and what kind of policy do you expect it to pursue?
...I don't think they are going to find the opportunities for Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking promising, much as they are ready to commit American resources to broker an agreement. They will learn, if they do not already know, that stepped-up American engagement is not a magic wand or the missing ingredient that will somehow transform the situation. Hamas' control of Gaza, its foothold in the West Bank, the radicalism of the "outside" Palestinians, the stockpiles of Kassams, the Iranian role - all this and more will still be there. Abu Mazen represents a minority of all Palestinians, and does not have the credibility to obligate the PLO to concessions that many Palestinians would depict as a sellout. The Obama Administration will pursue a peace process to strengthen Abu Mazen and to meet the minimum needs of regional allies like Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, as well as the Europeans. But this will reflect a strategy of conflict management rather than a naïve belief that the situation is ripe for conflict resolution.
The 64 million dollar question: is the Obama team going to "pressure" Israel? How and what about?
The main points of friction will be the traditional ones: Israeli settlement activity and the impact of Israeli security measures on the Palestinians. Many Democrats believe that Israel needs a little "tough love" in these areas, and that Bush was too tolerant toward Israel about them. How much of this pressure will be public, and how much it will really differ from past Administrations, all of whom also pressured Israel on these issues, remains to be seen.