There’s a certain degree of symbolism in that today [April 29] the Obama administration is launching discussions with the Arab League on renewing negotiations to end the conflict in the Middle East — exactly one day before the 10th anniversary of the Road Map [President Bush's peace initiative]. The central challenge for the sides is to find terms of reference that bypass the more difficult obstacles which they each pose: on the Palestinian side, the demand that Israel agree to negotiate on the basis of the 1967 borderlines (with mutual exchanges of land) and that it recognize a Palestinian state; on the Israeli side — the demand by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people, alongside a Palestinian state.
The obvious solution is for the sides to negotiate based on the exact wording of the Road Map (UN Resolution 1515) and/or the Annapolis Declaration (Nov. 27, 2007). Since the author of both these initiatives (including a complete freeze on construction in the settlements) is “one of their own” presidents, the Republicans will be hard-pressed to present them as anti-Israeli and to place obstacles in their way on Capitol Hill. The Arab Peace Initiative, also born during the Bush administration, awaits President Barack Obama. On the other hand, it’s not clear whether Obama is so keen. And this is where Grover Norquist comes in.