Obama "unsure" lasting Palestinian-Israeli peace can be reached
U.S. President Barack Obama said that he was not confident that a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement could be reached, according to an interview with New Yorker magazine published on Sunday.
All three of Obama’s main initiatives in the Middle East – the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iran’s nuclear program, and Syria’s civil war – had a “less than fifty-fifty” chance of reaching a final agreement.
The U.S. president added that all three events were connected.
“On the other hand, in all three circumstances we may be able to push the boulder partway up the hill and maybe stabilize it so it doesn’t roll back on us,” he said.
Obama said the Middle East was going through “inexorable change.”
“The region is going through rapid change and inexorable change. Some of it is demographics; some of it is technology; some of it is economics. And the old order, the old equilibrium, is no longer tenable. The question then becomes, What’s next?”
Obama also spoke about his handling of the Syrian crisis last year – when U.S. military action seemed likely after a deadly chemical weapons attack in a Damascus suburb in August.
“I am haunted by what’s happened,” Obama said, referring to the humanitarian crisis which has forced millions of Syrians to flee to refugee camps. Adding that he did not regret deciding not to engage in a fresh Middle Eastern conflict, the president said that it would have been “difficult to imagine” a scenario where U.S. involvement in war-torn Syria would have had a “better outcome.”
Obama added that a hypothetical situation whereby the U.S. armed and financed opposition groups leading to a peaceful transition of power “magical thinking.”