Former US Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk on Tuesday said that President Barack Obama and his chief Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, have failed to grasp the realities of how peace is made in the region, and so have only exacerbated the conflict between Israel and the Arabs.
Indyk supported Obama for president, and originally believed he would do a much better job than past presidents at hammering out a lasting peace deal between Israel and its neighbors.
But at a political forum in Omaha, Nebraska, Indyk conceded that he had been wrong, and that Obama was flunking his foray into Middle East peacemaking.
Obama's first mistake, said Indyk, was putting so much stock in Saudi King Abdullah supporting his peace push by moderating the Arab-backed Saudi peace proposal, which offers Israel full diplomatic relations with its neighbors in return for surrendering all lands liberated in the 1967 Six Day War and opening its borders to millions of so-called "Palestinian refugees."
Obama believed that if he could just get the Arabs to drop their demand to flood what remained of the Jewish state with even more Arabs, then Israel could be compelled to accept the rest of the terms. But Abdullah was unwilling to budge.
Then, lamented Indyk, Obama made his second blunder by focusing nearly his entire peace policy on strong-arming Israel into halting all Jewish construction in Judea, Samaria and even much of Jerusalem.
Indyk insisted that in order to effectively broker peace in the Middle East, one must not get bogged down in details before a broad agreement has been reached. Indeed, the Palestinians have played off Obama's error by adopting a far more extreme set of demands regarding Jewish building - demands that no Israeli leader can now accept.