President Obama stepped up the United States’ involvement in the cease-fire negotiations between Israel and Hamas. The president deployed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the region early today. President Obama spoke with Egypt’s President Mohammad Morsi, who is mediating the talks, three times in 24 hours as he traveled back to the United States from Asia. But beyond a cease-fire between Israel and Gaza, should the United States use these talks to push for a larger deal?
The New York Times editorial board thinks it’s essential to seek a long term solution now, writing: ”President Obama is right to invest more attention in Asia, but he also needs to assert more of a leadership role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The goal must be a permanent peace not another stopgap measure.” The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson echoed the sentiment, writing that the “Obama administration should use its power and influence to bring Israelis and Palestinians to the table, kicking and screaming if necessary.”
Negotiating a permanent agreement would be a diplomatic achievement for the White House, and it might also serve to weaken one of the America’s most threatening adversaries: Iran. Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman argue in the New York Times that pressuring Egypt and Turkey to support a comprehensive deal would “be a potent way to dent Iran’s bid for regional hegemony. The United States and Israel share that aim, and so do the oil-exporting kingdoms of the Persian Gulf.” While any cessation of the rockets being fired between these two regions should be welcomed, this may be an opportunity for President Obama to take the lead in finding a long term fix.