Obama Calls Mideast Leaders
Speaking of returning the United States to an active role in Arab-Israeli peace processing, here’s a statement just issued by new White House press secretary Robert Gibbs:
“This morning, the President placed phone calls to four Middle Eastern leaders: President Mubarak of Egypt, Prime Minister Olmert of Israel, King Abdullah of Jordan, and President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. He used this opportunity on his first day in office to communicate his commitment to active engagement in pursuit of Arab-Israeli peace from the beginning of his term, and to express his hope for their continued cooperation and leadership. In the aftermath of the Gaza conflict, he emphasized his determination to work to help consolidate the ceasefire by establishing an effective anti-smuggling regime to prevent Hamas from rearming, and facilitating in partnership with the Palestinian Authority a major reconstruction effort for Palestinians in Gaza. He pledged that the United States would do its part to make these efforts successful, working closely with the international community and these partners as they fulfill their responsibilities as well. The President appreciated the spirit of partnership and warm nature of these calls.”
Who knows what will come of this, but it appears to be a fairly clear signal that the new administration intends to actively engage in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process from the very beginning. It’ll be interesting to see what a “major reconstruction effort” for Gaza will mean, especially if it’s implemented by a Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority that isn’t in control of the Gaza strip.