Aaron David Miller in Newsweek:
If Obama is serious about peacemaking he'll have to adjust that balance in two ways. First, whatever the transgressions of the Palestinians (and there are many, including terror, violence and incitement), he'll also have to deal with Israel's behavior on the ground. The Gaza crisis is a case in point. Israel has every reason to defend itself against Hamas. But does it make sense for America to support its policy of punishing Hamas by making life unbearable for 1.5 million Gazans by denying aid and economic development? The answer is no.
Then there's the settlements issue. In 25 years of working on this issue for six secretaries of state, I can't recall one meeting where we had a serious discussion with an Israeli prime minister about the damage that settlement activity—including land confiscation, bypass roads and housing demolitions—does to the peacemaking process. There is a need to impose some accountability. And this can only come from the president. But Obama should make it clear that America will not lend its auspices to a peacemaking process in which the actions of either side willfully undermine the chances of an agreement America is trying to broker. No process at all would be better than a dishonest one that hurts America's credibility.
Second, Obama will have to maintain his independence and tactical flexibility to play the mediator's role. This means not road testing everything with Israel first before previewing it to the other side, a practice we followed scrupulously during the Clinton and Bush 43 years.
More here. [Photo shows Obama with Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak.]