High Anxiety Continues Over Obama's Lame Duck Days in Office

Anxiety continues to roil through the pro-Israel world over a possible last-minute political move by the Obama administration that could permanently alter the Israeli-Palestinian geo-political landscape.

Forty-eight hours after the November 8 election, I flew to south Florida for a series of lectures and briefings organized by StandWithUs, NOVA Southeast University and other organizations as part of the State Department’s International Education Week, intended to analyze the prospects regarding U.S. relations with Israel in the last weeks of the Obama administration. Everywhere, audiences were on the edge of their seats asking whether President Obama would take extraordinary passive or active steps in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to recognize a Palestinian state or impose a peace settlement, including a territorial mandate following the lines of the 1948 truce. Unlike General Assembly resolutions, which are not binding, the UNSC generally creates lasting pillars of international law.

As we approach noon on January 20, 2017, uncertainty continues among even the most astute of political insiders. President Barack Obama remains personally silent. Administration assurances in recent days proffer comfort to those hanging on every word to discern a course of action. But embedded ambiguities in each of those assurances only increases the speculation.

For example, in recent days, unnamed administration sources were quoted by the Associated Press as suggesting that President Obama “has nearly ruled out any major last-ditch effort to put pressure on Israel over stalled peace negotiations with the Palestinians.” The phrase “nearly ruled out” shines brightly in that report to emphasize that no decision has been made.

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