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Obama's Middle East speech: Good but irrelevant

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The positives of Obama's speech

So here’s what we can do to make the discussions and evaluation of Obama’s speech more fruitful. If we put these two issues aside – America’s irrelevance in this historic episode and its inability to drastically change its strategy in the region – we can address other elements that were missing in the speech.

Let’s start with the positives. Obama was at his best when he discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (although many Palestinians and Arabs will be disappointed that he decided to address the most important issue to them at the very end). It was crucial that Obama mention very clearly that the foundation for the resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians is the 1967 borders. That is quite a welcome change in US approach.

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Territorial and security issues should be discussed first, simply because progress on those matters, assumed to be easier to make, will build confidence between the two parties and create a positive momentum to tackle the thorny challenges of Jerusalem and the Palestinian refugees.

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