A year ago, President Obama pushed the UN to reach an agreement that would create a soverign Palestinian state. Now, with Israel digging in against any such accord and Palestinians upset that the US has refused to support their bid for independence, Obama was forced to tread lightly and speak in sweeping generalities in today's speech [pdf] to the General Assembly. After acknowledging that he still supports an independent Palestine Obama said, "Ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians who must live side by side...It is Israelis and Palestinians—not us—who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them."
"I know that many are frustrated by the lack of progress. So am I," the President said, as he pounded home the theme of the speech: "Peace is hard, but our people demand it." He seemed to address criticism that he is hurting the country's relationship with Israel by dedicating a significant amount of the speech to discussing how "Israel's citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses…Israel's children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them…These facts cannot be denied." Obama spent very few words discussing the Palestinian plight in the same language.
Aside from noting how the world has changed after the Arab Spring, and nods to Libya, Syria and Yemen, Obama offered little else but platitudes on poverty, global warming, and corruption.
A rep from the Palestinian delegation tells Al Jazeera that Americans "have used different forms of pressure, threats, and many others, sending letters, sending ambassadors" in an "amazing" campaign to stymie their quest for UN membership, and to urge other countries to tell them to drop it. "I hope that the United States will change its position and follow that majority of countries which want to support the Palestinian right to self-determination and an independent state."
While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that "the path to peace is through dialogue," but Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said he'd be willing to meet any time but so far Israel had "nothing tangible" to offer. This appears to be a correct assessment, given that Netanyahu hasn't really budged from his "peace based on illusions" analysis that he gave Obama in May.