Obama has also left some Arab leaders with whom he recently met confused and doubtful about his intentions on Middle East peace. They have reported to aides that the president acknowledged that he has failed thus far to secure matching concessions from Arab countries and Israel as the basis for new negotiations.
The Arabs complain that they have been offered no tangible incentives to move toward normalizing relations with Israel before an Israeli-Palestinian deal is reached. They dismiss both Obama’s publicly undisclosed demand for a one-year freeze on Israeli settlements and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s counteroffer of a six-month freeze as equally meaningless.
“Incrementalism and the step-by-step approach has not, and we believe will not, achieve peace,” Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal told reporters in Washington on July 31. The comments by Saud, who did not see Obama, echoed the broad Arab consensus that Obama has not been bold enough. “Temporary security, confidence-building measures will also not bring peace,” the Saudi prince added.
The president promised his Arab interlocutors that he would spell out his Middle East strategy in a major address in mid-to-late September