Obama Still in the Non-Skeptic Camp on Middle East Peace

The composition of the new Israeli governing coalition under Benjamin Netanyahu, a peace-process skeptic, has raised questions about just how far the Obama administration will be willing to push America's Middle East ally, if necessary, toward negotiations.

In a statement marking the 30th anniversary of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel released a few minutes ago by the White House, President Obama made it clear, in a broad way, that he was decidedly less skeptical about the idea of negotiations: "[P]eace is always possible even in the face of seemingly intractable conflicts," he said.

On Tuesday, Obama said during a news conference that Netanuahu's leadership of the Israeli government does not make the prospect of a peace agreement with the Palestinians "easier than it was," but said that his administration would be persistent in working toward that goal.

There seems to be a consensus among Israel-watchers that the new government, which includes ultra-nationalist Avigdor Lieberman,  will change the terms of the political debate in America about policy toward Israel.

Here's Obama's statement:

"Today marks the anniversary of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, signed thirty years ago at the White House.  As we commemorate this historic event, we recall that peace is always possible even in the face of seemingly intractable conflicts.  The success of Prime Minister Begin, President Sadat, and President Carter, begun at Camp David, demonstrated that progress results from sustained efforts at communication and cooperation.  While much work remains, we honor the courage and foresight of these leaders, who stood together in unity to change the course of our shared history.  Today, as we seek to expand the circle of peace among Arabs and Israelis, we take inspiration from what Israel and Egypt achieved three decades ago, knowing that the destination is worthy of the struggle.

Obama Still in the Non-Skeptic Camp on Middle East Peace