A heady week ahead for Middle East peace – time for the US to act ?

With President’s speeches  out of  the way, there seems to be much to look forward to this coming week in the realm of Middle East peace. The first speech on thursday, which failed to live up to the expectations of Cairo speech, is seen by most analysts as damp, weak and ineffectual.

The second speech at Aipac was a reiteration of his earlier speech and seem to have the intended effect – of riling up the pro-Israeli groups and Bibi himself.

The rhetoric going forward must,  lead to actions. Too many peace treaties have been proposed, and much blood has been shed to go back to just words again.

Hamas has called the speech “empty of concrete significance”, while  PM of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected Obama’s call for return to 1967 borders.

In my research of this subject, my understanding of this informs me that unless the US takes a firm stand, gets the Israeli government to commit to sticking with the plans that have been outlined in several of the proposed peace plans.

The right to return as well as status of refuges are other burning issues which need to be addressed – with all the sincerity that it deserves.

The upcoming declaration of statehood by Palestine ( expected in September) is likely to be the high point in the process.  While most of the developing world and other sympathizers have recognized Palestine, Obama administration vetoed its recognition last fall in the U.N, saying any unilateral action to isolate Israel is not likely to result in any tangible results.

Some developments in the recent past have also added to the confusion with respect to the peace process. With the departure of George Mitchell, the Middle East special Envoy, things may be looking quite unclear at this moment.

The US administration has also been caught off-guard on most  issues related to Middle East in the last 6 months , and it remains to be seen if the State department gets its act together to formulate a clear vision and pushes all sides involved to do what is necessary – in its roles as the honest broker.

With  unity between Hamas and Fatah, it seems like this is the moment to be sized, and hammer out a lasting deal, while pushing Hamas to recognize Israel.

If both sides are able to compromise and come to the table, with a strong stance taken by the US on the issue of recognition of the Palestinian state, peace may be within our grasp. The bigger question in my mind is : Does the Obama administration have the gumption to back up its words with actions ?