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Moment of Opportunity?

One of the many disagreeable aspects of the “peace process” is that people say very silly things. A case in point:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas “are two leaders who I believe want peace,” Obama said in the Rose Garden Wednesday evening, flanked by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell. “As I told them today, this moment of opportunity may not soon come again. They cannot afford to let it slip away.”

Well this moment won’t come again, by definition. (He’s very big on “this” moments — he used it a lot in his campaign speech in Berlin. It didn’t make any more sense then.) But what opportunity? Is there some hint that this moment of opportunity is any different from past moments of opportunity? And who is to say that there won’t be better prospects in the future — when, for example, the West Bank’s economic gains mount and its civil institutions mature. Maybe if Iran is toppled, externally or internally, and support dries up for Hamas and Hezbollah, the moment will be ripe.

But not now. By investing such expectations in this “moment” and suggesting that this is an especially opportune time to reach an agreement, when the opposite is likely the case, Obama risks — again — losing credibility.

Meanwhile, the real moment of opportunity is with Iran — before it gets the bomb. If only the administration had an appropriate sense of urgency for the right things.



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