Israelis and Palestinians take a backseat, for a change

An interesting thing happened on the way to wrapping up Secretary Clinton’s press conference on Friday.
Clinton concluded her opening comments during a press availability in France by noting that she had met with PA President Abbas that day. And she stressed that despite everything else going on in the Middle East, it was important that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict not be forgotten.
“In a time of upheaval across the region, we cannot lose sight of the critical importance of resolving this issue,” she told reporters before opening the floor to questions.
And yet, none of the reporters asked about the Abbas meeting. Admittedly their opportunity to ask questions was limited and the other news items were significant – the ministerial meeting of the Friends of the Syrian People Clinton had just participated in and visits that day with the new French prime minister and president. But still.
That Clinton could have had the first high-level American meeting with a Palestinian leader in months and made it through a press appearance without having a question on the issue speaks volumes to how low the issue has dropped on everyone’s agenda.
In years past, there have been other press conferences during Clinton’s foreign travel when pressing issues in Europe and Asia were pushed aside in favor of reporters’ interest in hearing about new settlement construction or peace process timelines.
Now it is an afterthought, and despite Clinton’s urging that it not be overlooked, no one Friday gave signs of peering in too closely.
That means that to the extent that the Obama administration really does want to once again focus the spotlight on this issue, it’s going to be difficult to make it out amidst all the other bright objects on the horizon.
- Hilary Leila Krieger