Mitchell Reports | March 21, 2013
>>> and joining me now from washington , washington bureau chief for al arabiya . i want to ask you about the visit to ramallah and the west bank , the president reversing himself on what he had committed to in cairo on a freeze on the settlements prior to any engagement on the peace talks. and this certainly has put abu mazen , mahmoud abbas , the president of the palestinians on the spot. there's some indications that he's willing to bend or yield a wink and a nod. what are you hearing?
>> well, i think, let me say in general that this trip is not to make peace between the israelis and the palestinians . the president wanted first to make peace with the prime minister, netenyahu or at least reach a truce with him. and then build a bridge directly to the israeli people . keep in mind, andrea that netenyahu comes to washington , he goes to the congress. and talks to the american people directly over the heads of the american president . barack obama essentially did it today, and he spoke to the israelis, he was very compassionate, he was very warm. he told them how much he loved israel and its history and jewish identity and all that he said the right things to the israeli people . on the part that has to do with the palestinians and peace process , whether in ramallah or in israel, i think he made a very eloquent compassionate rational case for peace. probably more eloquently and more powerful than any american president in any israeli prime minister or anybody in the region. so in that sense, it was an historic speech. unless, and the question now is, before he went there, if you remember, american officials and he himself said we are not going to raise the expectations. now the speech itself, whether by design or by fault, is going to raise the expectations. and unless the president follows this very eloquent speech by resorting to robust efforts led by him, not by john kerry only, but by him to revive the peace process , this great speech will look like another outburst of eloquence. nothing more. now on the palestinians , they realize that they may have a short window. the first six months or first year of the second term of this president, to move the peace process further. they know that they have to deal with obama for next four years and they know they have to deal with netenyahu for the next two or three years, assuming that the israeli government will remain for the rest of its duration. and, and that may explain the hints that the palestinians may walk back from their position that there has to be a public announcement of a freeze on settlements before they go back to negotiations. they don't, they cannot afford to alienate obama again. it's true that obama had a better relationship with obama . so this is a palestinian's chance to go back to the peace process , without alienating obama and give the president and give themselves another chance.
>> we're going to have to leave it there, to be continued, thank you very much. good to see you.