Obama may seek new peace push after Israeli election

White House officials say deteriorating state of affairs in the region necessitates positive action, Haaretz reports

US President Barack Obama  in the White House in Washington, DC, on January 30, 2015 (photo credit: AFP/Mandel Ngan)
US President Barack Obama in the White House in Washington, DC, on January 30, 2015 (photo credit: AFP/Mandel Ngan)

US President Barack Obama is considering another Middle East peace push during his final two years in office and following the upcoming general elections in Israel, Haaretz reported Friday.

The newspaper quoted senior White House officials who said Washington was very worried by the increasingly negative developments in the relationship between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and was seeking some positive path forward.

“We would like to see the formation of the new government in Israel and its attitude to this issue. But in the year-and-a-half to two years that Obama has left in the White House, we will have to deal with this issue because time is working against us,” the official told Haaretz.

“We want to find the right timing to go for another push and try to promote something on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. I can’t believe we will not give it a try before the end of 2016,” he added.

The official cited the deteriorating diplomatic ties between Israel and the PA, whose animosity towards each other has grown considerably since the collapse of peace talks in March 2013.

Since that time, the Palestinians have increasingly sought to challenge Jerusalem on the world stage — through their bid to receive state recognition at the UN Security Council as well as the PA’s upcoming ascension to the International Criminal Court. This has led Israel to withhold tax revenues, which it collects for the Palestinians on goods passing through its ports. In turn, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s central council on Thursday called on the PA to end security cooperation with Israel.

It was unclear whether the Obama administration would seek to advance its peace plan even in the event that Benjamin Netanyahu remains prime minister following the March 17 election, considering the low point in Israel-Washington ties.

The Israeli and American leaders are said to share a deep distrust, developed through their clashes over the faltering Palestinian peace process, Israel’s 2014 war in the Gaza Strip and the emerging nuclear deal with Iran. In comments to CNN shortly before Netanyahu’s controversial address to Congress on Tuesday, former US ambassador Martin Indyk described personal relations between Obama and Netanyahu as “toxic.”

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