President Obama with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel the past three days.
President Obama has been in Israel the past three days, meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres while also meeting with Mahmoud Abbas , the President of the Palestinian authority.
Obama visited the Israeli occupied West Bank where he was greeted rather unceremoniously by a group of Palestinians who unfurled a banner that said, "Obama: You promised hope and change, you gave us colonies and apartheid."
During his stay a few rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel (which caused no injuries and which Obama condemned) he insisted Israel should not use violence as a pre-tense for avoiding negotiations nor should the Palestinians insist that Israel halt building settlements in the West Bank as a precondition to restart negotiations.
Apparently a highlight of his visit was the speech he gave yesterday to a group of youthful Israeli's which except for a lone heckler was greeted enthusiastically by the young audience.
The speech was an obvious appeal to a younger generation of Israeli's who do not necessarily agree with the hardened views of their elders, who do not trust the Palestinians and don't exactly embrace Obama himself.
But here's the situation as I see it. The youthful generation may be open to a two state solution with the Palestinians but they have no say in the matter.
Since the 1967 war, a victorious Israel has occupied the West Bank, kept Gaza as an open air prison and usurped the Golan Heights from Syria.
Israel has expanded the settlements of mostly orthodox Jewish settlers in the West Bank and the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) has protected the settlements. Meanwhile Palestinian homes have been bulldozed if they were in the new settlement area and the olive groves of the former Palestinian inhabitants were also destroyed.
From here, it is apparent that no Israeli government since 1967 has seriously considered a Palestinian state next to Israel. All negotiations with the Palestinians were still born from the start and were never intended to reach an agreement for a two state solution.
As for the U.S. it has unequivocally and blindly supported any decision made by the Israeli government even as the plight of the occupied Palestinians has gotten worse.
Netanyahu was recently re-elected as prime minister albeit with a somewhat different cast of smaller parties making up the new government.
Fundamentally what has changed with the Israeli government vis---vis the Palestinians?
As for "negotiations", Hamas the legitimately elected group of Palestinians, (which beat Abbas' Fatah in those elections) is only allowed to govern in Gaza. Hamas is branded a terrorist group and excluded from any renewed negotiations. So how does Abbas represent all Palestinians?
Meanwhile Israeli settlement building continues uninterrupted. Israel has built a 22' concrete separation barrier around the West Bank, (hardly a sign Israel is serious about negotiations).