The power of the speech lay in Obama’s choice of words: He spoke as one who believes that his words have meaning and that there is justice out there.
On Thursday, Obama presented his vision for “the world as it should be.” He made it clear, especially to Netanyahu, that in such world there is no room for tyrants on the one hand but also to an ongoing occupation on the other hand.
Obama offered Netanyahu a thick hint- “Israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace” – thereby revealing the president’s dissatisfaction with the Israeli prime minister’s conduct, hours before their meeting at the Oval Office.
Obama the responsible adult
Obama, despite being younger than both Netanyahu and Abbas, conducted himself like the responsible adult the other night: He signaled to all parties what the required solution is, and outlined the solution once the sides agree to the formula comprising “territory and recognition” – Israel will agree to the principle of marking the borders, and the Palestinians will agree to recognize that the Israel is the state of the Jewish people.
The issues of Jerusalem and refugees will be left for a later stage.
However, after hurling the truth in everyone’s face, the president disappointed us: He spoke like a commentator, rather than as the leader of a superpower. He did not impose a timetable, he did not offer carrots, and he did not threaten with sticks. What was missing was the guiding hand of a superpower that would set the record straight and inform each party what is expected of it, and when.
In order to realize the two-state vision, Obama needs to hold up a whip, and make the price of rejectionism clear to both sides.
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