Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk, on Andrea Mitchell Reports on Wednesday, called President Obama’s first-term Mideast diplomacy a “stain on his legacy.” Now, he said, Obama must “decide whether he’ll reinvest in the effort to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Indyk said. “If he saw there’s an opportunity to remove that stain [in his second term], I think he would want to do it.”
Critics have blasted the Obama administration for being not fully engaged in the crisis over the past four years. Hillary Clinton’s trip to Israel Tuesday marked her fifth as secretary of state. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Israel 25 times. President Obama last visited the country in 2008 as a presidential candidate.
“I think that this administration did try but it failed,” Indyk told Andrea Mitchell. “Part of the problem was that President Obama managed to alienate all Israelis from left to right. He managed to convince them that he wasn’t their friend. Now he’s managed to convince them that in times of crisis he’s got their backs. He stood up for their right to defend themselves. He provided the funding for the Iron Dome system that’s protecting Israelis from the rocket fire. He has a lot of credibility with the Israeli public these days. And he should use that.”
Obama voiced full support for Israel on Sunday. “There is no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders,” Obama said at a news conference in Bangkok. “So we are fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself from missiles landing on people’s homes.”
“You can’t say that the administration has put a high priority on the kind of full-time engagement that Secretary Clinton’s husband engaged in and we’ve seen during some previous administrations,” MSNBC Senior Political Analyst Mark Halperin told Andrea Mitchell. “Sometimes in the past we’ve seen in these crises [that] administrations have said that this is an opportunity. I don’t think anybody thinks we’re going to build off this.”
Obama has been open about his desire to be a transformative president. As he surely knows, a Mideast peace deal would secure his legacy. That may push him to be a more active broker in his second term.