The proposal placed on the table by Barack Obama in Cairo is one that Israel would not be able to refuse, while the Palestinians and Arab states will justify their reputation for missing opportunities if they don't rush to grab it.
Barack Obama did not reinvent the wheel: His peace proposal included nothing that was not said before. Yet the innovation had to do with the dosage, the tone, and the show of determination. The American president personally pledged to end the Israeli occupation, facilitate the establishment of a Palestinian state, and support a Jerusalem that will be accessible to members of all faiths.
After many years, an American president spoke in an inspiring manner that sparked, for a moment at least, a glimmer of hope.
Using 6,000 words that were selected carefully and polished by the president himself the night before, Barack Obama turned the complex reality of the Middle East into a simple truth: A give-and-take deal that has no losers.
Words can touch
Officials in Jerusalem, Ramallah, Riyadh, and Washington are well aware of the fact that this proposal is the only one that may bring an end to the longtime conflict. All the rest is transient, nuances of terminology and struggles of ego and honor.
Words can touch, and on Thursday Barack Obama touched many hearts in the Middle East. However, he will be tested based on his actions, and therefore he has already started to prepare: Next week he will be sending special envoy Mitchell to the Middle East in order to receive Netanyahu's answers. After the elections in Iran, American and Iranian representatives will sit down together and get the dialogue between them underway.
Obama took his place at the train engine; for him, the train has already left the station, and this is the last call for Netanyahu. Obama will take the Middle Eastern stage again around July or August and present a plan that not only features a framework for action, but also a timetable.
At this time, Obama is timing Netanyahu, while expecting him to voluntarily connect to the new winds blowing from Washington, before he is forced to contend with a storm.