The many speeches last week at the United Nations about the Palestinians’ application for membership as a state are just the opening acts of a new play of political theater known as the Arab-Israeli conflict. The next part of the drama shifts back to the Middle East, with serious risks for the United States if not handled well.
President Barack Obama may be inclined to remain in the tactical mode that has characterized much of the administration’s handling of the Arab-Israeli conflict. With so many other events vying for his time and attention in the Middle East as well as continued economic problems and a reelection campaign at home, the Obama administration might seek to avoid the minefield of a moribund peace process. But treading water on the Israeli-Palestinian front presents considerable risks for U.S. interests in the region. There is the very real danger of a new conflagration on the Arab-Israeli front and its possible negative spillover effects on political transitions in places such as Egypt.
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