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Arabs losing hope in Obama's ability to broker Mideast peace

In a push for progress, three heavy hitters from the administration – Mitchell, Gates, and Jones – visited the region this week.

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Nearly two months after President Obama's historic address to the Muslim world from Cairo, his administration made a high-profile drive this week to shore up Arab and Israeli support for a comprehensive peace deal.

A trio of senior officials – US Mideast envoy George Mitchell, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and US National Security Advisor James Jones – have visited officials throughout the region, with particular emphasis on Israel.

Since his June 4 Cairo speech, Mr. Obama has shown a new US willingness to take Israel to task for its expansion of settlements in the West Bank. But he has simultaneously begun to press the Arab world to do its part to foster peace, sending letters in advance of this week's visits to encourage action from leaders who are reluctant to make a move before Israel agrees to end the official state of war with its Arab neighbors.

"There's far more motion right now in US policy," says Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington.

But Mr. Obama and his team are running up against Arab skepticism. Though Obama still commands credibility in the eyes of many citizens from Syria to Saudi Arabia, many are still waiting for clear progress – or even a concrete plan.

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