Fewer than 50 days into his Presidency, Barack Obama has begun to set a different framework for how America deals with the Middle East. There is no question that today America’s choices and flexibility in the region are far greater than they were only 50 days ago.
News out of Gaza this morning seems to have taken a more hopeful turn
with some progress toward an Egyptian-French plan that is being offered
to generate a ceasefire – though the situation remains unclear.
Moreover, Israel has declared a three hour a day truce to allow
humanitarian aid to enter Gaza and Hamas officials are saying they will
not fire rockets during those three hours. There are some welcome indications that the Bush administration may be
working with Egyptian and French negotiators behind the scenes, but the
reality is that the US remains conspicuously absent.
As fighting erupted in Gaza over the last few weeks, the Bush
administration was in a familiar place: on the sidelines. As foreign
leaders from around the world immersed themselves in the conflict, with
at least three different shuttle diplomacy initiatives underway, the
Bush administration was largely absent.