During a press conference in Seoul, South Korea, President Obama indicated that the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians needed to be put on "pause" for now.
Obama's statement is in response to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas decision to form a unity government with Hamas. Because of this, Israel has removed itself from any further participation in the peace process. Obama said:
We will continue to encourage them to walk through that door. Do I expect they will walk through that door, next week, next month or even in the course of the next six months? No.
In other words, Obama is going to leave this alone until after the mid-term elections. Democrats are going to take a whupping as it is. They can ill-afford to have one of their most loyal constituencies stay home on election day. So the Obama Administration will ease off on Israel — for now.
But if Fatah and Hamas are still chummy when 2015 rolls around will the Obama Administration pressure Israel to enter into talks with the Palestinian Unity government? If that's the case will the Obama Administration remove Hamas from the State Department's Terrorism list? When you consider the Obama Administration went wobbly on Israel being recognized as a Jewish state then it should come as no surprise if they waver on this as well.
As recently as yesterday, Israel was perturbed with the Obama Administration's response to the Fatah-Hamas unity deal. When Secretary of State Kerry and State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said they were "disappointed" with the pact, a senior Israeli official said, "The Americans need to make it clear to Abbas that this is a red line – he just can't associate with Hamas."
Well, I don't think the Obama Administration can credibly use the phrase "red line". But nevertheless this Fatah-Hamas reconciliation did warrant a stronger response. Which leads me to believe that the Obama Administration still wants an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement as a feather in its cap even if it includes Hamas.
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