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Obama Administration Matures on Middle East Peace

Palestinian President Abbas In Jordan

A sign of creative thinking on the peace process: The FT reports that Washington is preparing a package of economic incentives for Palestinians in the West Bank with the aim of boosting commerce and employment in the territory. The hope is that a more favorable climate for negotiations will emerge if the economic situation improves:

“We intend to try to create the conditions for peace so that we can resume negotiations between the parties in a clear and precise, predetermined manner,” Mr Kerry said. “Economic growth will help us be able to provide the climate.” He said the package of measures, which the White House is expected to announce next week, was designed to “facilitate” political talks rather than be a substitute for them. While he sounded optimistic about the prospect of resuming talks, he did not lay out next steps that he expected Israel or the Palestinian Authority to take.

The Obama administration seems to be taking a much smarter approach than it did last term. Grandstanding appears to be giving way to a focus on practical steps. Trying to improve conditions for Palestinians in the West Bank is good in itself, but will also help create a more favorable climate for negotiations. This is a vital lesson we’re glad to see the administration has finally learned: build trust first, push the peace process second.

Over the long term, economic growth could foster a Palestinian middle class with economic interests tied to Israel, which would go a long way toward selling the two-state solution to ordinary people in the West Bank. Ramallah is not becoming the Singapore of the Middle East anytime soon, and we’re not holding our breath for anything like a final peace. But this is at least a step in the right direction.

[Image courtesy of Getty Images]

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  • Anthony

    “Grandstanding appears to be giving way to a focus on practical steps.” This is definitely progress but in Middle East so close and yet so different – Palestinians/Israelis.

  • TheCynical1

    Even better, to serve the same purposes, would be to encourage greater levels of Israeli-Palestinian trade. (As Rand Paul suggested in his trip to Israel earlier this year.)

  • Luke Lea

    What’s with the sunglasses?

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