Second, the US political calendar and Obama's presumed reelection campaign would seem to rule out a focused presidential effort on Middle East peace in 2012. At the same time, however, taking a major Middle East milestone into the campaign would be a considerable plus for the president, some foreign-policy experts say, especially since the domestic picture is expected to offer few advantages.
"Mr. Obama will need some accomplishments going into a reelection campaign, and given the situation he faces in the Congress and the pace of the economic recovery, some significant progress in some aspect of foreign affairs may be easier than progress at home," says Patrick Clawson, deputy director for research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
"And if in fact there is a reasonable prospect of reaching a framework agreement," Mr. Clawson continues, "the president is going to want to have his fingerprints all over it."
Voters value Middle East peace
That may be all the more true considering that the American public – read US voters – places sizable importance on reaching an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord. In a Christian Science Monitor/TIPP poll conducted early this month, 60 percent of Americans said the administration should give moderate or high priority to reaching a comprehensive peace agreement by the administration's own deadline of September. Another 20 percent said such an accord should be a "very high" priority, while only 8 percent said it should be "very low."
Perhaps surprisingly, Americans also largely favor Obama getting personally involved in reaching an accord on a two-state solution by September. In the Monitor/TIPP poll, 54 percent said he should give the issue "moderate" to "high" importance, and 21 percent said Obama should give it "very high" importance – compared with 10 percent who said the president should give the issue "no importance at all."