The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

The Leveretts on Obama's approach to the MEPP

The Leveretts - Middle East commentary's smartest couple?

Obama's statement has been heralded (and criticized) as a striking departure from the policy of George W. Bush. In fact, the Cairo speech squandered Obama's best opportunity to revitalize U.S. policy in the Arab-Israeli arena by describing Israeli settlement activity not merely as violating previous agreements and undermining efforts to achieve peace, but as "illegal," because the settlement of Israeli civilians in occupied territory violates the Fourth Geneva Convention.

More broadly, Obama's rhetoric in Cairo strongly suggests that his Middle East diplomacy will extend America's decades-long record of ineffectual efforts at Arab-Israeli peacemaking -- a record that has its origins in the Reagan administration's 1981 decision to abandon the Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Carter administrations' characterization of Israeli settlements in occupied Arab territory as "illegal." While the European Union and most of the rest of the world have consistently done so, the last four U.S. administrations have not -- a position Obama is continuing.

Do read on for their blistering critique of the ridiculous Middle East roadmap, and Obama's failure to steer away from it.