The Jordan Times (Opinion)
June 3, 2009 - 12:00am

US President Barack Obama’s Middle East visit is certain to stir interest in many quarters, and definitely much more of it in this conflict-ridden part of the world.

His much-anticipated speech in Cairo has been prefigured by laymen and pundits alike. The president, they say, will announce his administration’s idea on how the Arab-Israeli conflict can be managed to finally bring about peace in the region and put an end to the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian problem.

Yet there is still speculation about what Obama will say in Cairo after he completed his round of consultations with leaders in the region, consultations that started with talks with His Majesty King Abdullah, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, last month in Washington, and will continue during his visit in the area.

What has transpired so far is encouraging: Obama seems to stand by his conviction that the two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the only answer and is opposed to Israel’s continued settlement activity in the Palestinian territories.

The US president also knows that time is of the essence if the region is to avoid a total breakdown of the peace process and return to wars and destruction.

His Majesty made this message clear during his talks with Obama in Washington, and he knows the realities in the region better than many.

The US president must therefore be sure that he can deliver on whatever he proposes for the purpose of breathing new life into the moribund peace process.

The world pins too much hope on his promise of change for failure to be an option. Especially when Obama’s credibility is also at stake.

The Arabs’ offering came in clear terms and is rooted in international legitimacy. No stratagems, no roundabouts, no reinventing the wheel.

Peace and recognition in exchange for land occupied in 1967. There are scores of resolutions issued by the world body mandated to do so, so the writing is clear.

Israel knows it, and should not be allowed to procrastinate.

This is where the new US administration can help turn things around for the peoples of the region; it can use its leverage to convince Israel to reach regional peace. It is good for the Arabs, it is good for Israel and it is good for the world.

If Obama fails in his mission of peace, the parties, and the world, might just as well prepare for more suffering and turmoil.


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