US President Barack Obama may deliver a major policy speech next week laying out his new Middle East strategy, US officials said on Wednesday.
The announcement comes as Obama enjoys a boost of stature following the elimination of Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, and amid ongoing upheaval in the Arab world.
At the same time, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu prepares to address the US Congress on his vision for Israel’s future, and the future of any accords with the PA, on May 24th.
A key question is whether Obama will use his own address to present new proposals for renewed Israeli-PA ‘peacemaking’ before Netanyahu can do so himself.
A senior administration official confirmed Obama will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on May 20, but is considering giving his speech before leaving on a trip to Europe early in the week of May 22.
Some political observers say Obama may be concerned Netanyahu plans to take a hard line vis-a-vis Israeli security and ask Congress to stop funding to the Palestinian Authority in the wake of the recent Fatah-Hamas unity agreement.
Obama, seeking to counter criticism he has been slow to react to the upheaval in the Arab world, is anxious to lay out his plan for a region undergoing dramatic change.
Observers say the killing of bin Laden in his Pakistan compound has opened a window for Obama to make the case for Arab nations to reject Al Qaeda’s militant brand of Islamicism and embrace democratic change.
One US official said the coming address would be “about political change in the Middle East and North Africa, not about Islam.”
US officials stressed the speech’s timing isn’t certain yet.
Source material can be found at this site.