Obama: I failed to move Middle East peace forward

US president lists Israeli-Palestinian peace as first-term failure, says parties "have to want it as well."

July 16, 2012 21:27
1 minute read.
US President Obama in the Oval Office [file]

US PResident Barack Obama in the Oval Office 370 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Jason Reed)


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WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama listed his inability to move the peace process forward as a personal failure during a TV interview Sunday.

Obama was asked by WJLA, the Washington ABC affiliate, whether there was anything during his first that “you believe you failed at, not because Congress wouldn’t play ball, but that rests squarely on your shoulders and has you desperate to get that second term to atone for?” Obama began by listing a few issues, such as immigration reform, that he felt his administration had not accomplished enough on, but was pressed for something that did not involve Congress.

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“The things I can do without Congress tend to be in the foreign policy area,” he noted. “In that area, I have not been able to move the peace process forward in the Middle East the way I wanted.”

He continued, “It’s something we focused on very early. But the truth of the matter is that the parties, they’ve got to want it as well.”

It was not the first time Obama acknowledged frustration in his inability to move the peace process forward, but his comments came as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled to Israel to try to reignite moribund negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

It is the first high-level push by the administration in many months, and also coincides with the presidential campaign, during which presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney will soon be visiting Israel himself.

Some have suggested Clinton’s last-minute stop in Israel was a bid to steal some of the spotlight from Romney’s trip later in the month, and also stress American commitment to the Jewish state and its challenges – as Romney seeks to use Obama’ struggles there as an election issue.

Romney has repeatedly criticized Obama for his stance on Israel and approach to region.

The same day Obama’s WJLA interview aired, The Washington Post devoted a lengthy front-page feature to exploring the history of the president’s peace-making efforts, titled “Where Obama failed on forging peace in the Middle East.” The story explores Obama’s tensions with American Jewish leaders and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, issues which still resonate on the campaign trail.

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