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On Europe trip, Obama to argue against a vote for a Palestinian state

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One factor determining Obama’s prospects for ultimately convincing Europeans will be whether the moribund peace process is showing any signs of life by the time of a General Assembly vote, some regional analysts say.

The Europeans can be dissuaded from voting with a UN majority on an independent Palestine “only if there is something else going” on in September, says Stephen P. Cohen, president of the Institute for Middle East Peace and Development in Teaneck, N.J. “If it’s just the status quo, the Europeans are going to feel they have to vote for a Palestinian state.”

No one expects the declaration to have trouble reaching a majority in the UN General Assembly, given the large number of developing and Islamic countries favorable to the Palestinians. But what the Obama administration wants to head off is a “yes” vote with the added heft of sizable Western support – a vote that would isolate both Israel and the US.

But the real key to where a lifeless peace process goes from here, Dr. Cohen says – and equally important, he adds, to what becomes of US-Israel relations – is the Israeli political system.

“The ball is now in the court of the Israeli political system,” he says. It’s up to Israel’s political forces to “decide whether [they] will accept [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu being in this confrontational state with the US for the rest of Obama’s first term,” he says.

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