Obama-Netanyahu Summit: A Polite Get-Together Going Nowhere

President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu were on their best behavior before, during, and after their latest summit.  But while the atmosphere was amicable, the summit produced little, if any, momentum or initiatives for further peace talks.

Obama seemed more interested in rebuilding Gaza after this summer’s 50-day Israeli counter-offensive against Hamas rocket barrages.  The president did discuss halting Iran’s nuclear program, but without any hint of a tough stands against Tehran.  Netanyahu left without real U.S. assurances that Washington is serious about depriving Iran of nuclear weapons capability.  And this happens to be Bibi’s number-one priority.  Lesson to Israel: you’re on your own.

For his part, Netanyahu didn’t shy from granting a green light for some 2,500 additional housing units in East Jerusalem as a backdrop to the Washington summit.  The media, as usual, led with sharp administration criticism of a new round of settlement-building – in this instance, with a 50-50 split of new apartments for both Jewish and Arab residents in what Israel considers its eternal, united capital.

For his part, Abbas gave Obama few cheers, dousing the summit with a Palestinian request to the U.N. Security Council to set a two-year deadline for complete Israeli withdrawal from the entire West Bank and East Jerusalem to allow creation of Palestinian statehood.  The resolution heads nowhere, as it awaits a U.S. veto.

All in all, the summit reinforced a growing impression that Obama is losing interest in furthering a Mideast peace, contenting himself with at most a few moves on the edges.

The atmospherics may have been positive, but the results were miniscule.