While the trip made progress, only time will tell if the White House will pursue peace talks, said Aaron David Miller, a vice president at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a former adviser to Democratic and Republican secretaries of state.
“The fact that he’s succeeded does not suggest in any way, shape or form that he’s hooked or committed and he has decided to make the Israeli-Palestinian conflict the central issue of his presidency,” Miller said. “Given his other priorities, is he prepared to spend the time and energy and plow through the kind of friction that invariably will accompany any serious American initiative? The answer is no, unless he has a sense that this thing could work.”
Still, Miller said Obama realized a number of outright successes, including neutralizing Republican attacks that he’s not sufficiently pro-Israel. He also turned a “soap opera, rollercoaster relationship” with Netanyahu into one that could be highly productive, particularly when it comes to dealing with the nuclear threat posed by Iran, Miller said.
Palestinians were angered by Obama’s decision to soften his language on Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territory. But Khaled Elgindy, a former adviser to Palestinian peace negotiators and a fellow at the Brookings Institution, said Obama cast the trip as a chance to win over the Israeli public.
“They were careful to keep expectations low because then you can’t lose,” he said.
Obama was likely to have been pressed on Syria, by Israel and Jordan, who are increasingly alarmed by the prospect of a failed state on their border. He’s resisted military intervention, though Andrew Tabler, a senior fellow in the program on Arab politics at The Washington Institute who focuses on Syria said allies want the U.S. to lead a coalition to oust the regime.
“I think he got an earful from everyone in the region about what to do, but whether that leads to action or not we’ll have to wait and see,” said Tabler said. “They want leadership and they don’t feel like they’re getting it.”