President Obama gave an interview to Al Arabiya television tonight, and at times it was really quite amazing. I particularly enjoyed the parts about the bankruptcy of Al-Qaeda ideas and Obama’s strong commitment to reach out to the Muslim world. However, one part of the interview has stuck with me more than any other:
THE PRESIDENT: I think it is possible for us to see a Palestinian state — I’m not going to put a time frame on it — that is contiguous, that allows freedom of movement for its people, that allows for trade with other countries, that allows the creation of businesses and commerce so that people have a better life.
Contiguous. Thats the key word here. Obama might mean two things when he says contiguous Palestinian state:
1. A legitimately contiguous Palestinian state, in which the West Bank and Gaza are physically connected to some extent and the flow of people, goods, and services can occur in a truly free manner.
2. A contiguous West Bank as the Palestinian state, with Gaza left to its own devices or possibly pushed off on the Egyptians*.
I sincerely hope it is the first and not the second, but if the first is indeed what he meant, it would be a sea-change in American policy. And I am not enough of an Obama-maniac to believe that has happened just yet.* This, by the way, is even an worse outcome than most people consider when talking about a 2 state solution. At least in those plans, Gaza is considered part of the Palestinian state, even if that state wouldn’t be contiguous.