January 22, 2010
By Haaretz Service and The Associated PressPresident Barack Obama says his administration overestimated its ability to persuade the Israelis and Palestinians to resume meaningful peace talks. Obama says both parties have been unwilling to make the bold gestures needed to move the process forward. If the U.S. had anticipated that earlier, Obama says he might not have raised his expectations so high. Obama says the U.S. will continue to work toward a two-state solution in which Israel is secure and the Palestinians have sovereignty. His remarks came in an interview with Time Magazine published Thursday. During the interview, which the president granted on the occasion of one year since his inauguration, Obama said the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was “as intractable” an issue as he has ever encountered. “Both sides … have found that the political environment, the nature of their coalitions, or the divisions within their societies were such that it was very hard for them to start engaging in a meaningful conversation,” Obama told Time. “And I think that we overestimated our ability to persuade them to do so when their politics ran contrary to that,” Obama said. “From Abbas’ perspective, he’s got Hamas looking over his shoulder and I think an environment generally within the Arab world that feels impatient with any process.” “And on the Israeli front, although the Israelis I think after a lot of time showed a willingness to make some modifications in their policies, still found it very hard to move with any bold gestures,” the president said. “I think it is absolutely true that what we did this year didn’t produce the kind of breakthrough that we wanted and if we had anticipated some of these political problems on both sides earlier, we might not have raised expectations as high,” Obama told Time.