President Obama at the Justice Department
President Barack Obama at the Justice Department in Washington, Friday, Jan. 17, 2014. Photo by AP
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U.S. President Barack Obama is pessimistic that a permanent peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians could be reached, according to an extensive interview with David Remnick in the New Yorker.

Obama told Remnick that all three of his main Middle East initiatives – the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Iranian nuclear issue and the civil war in Syria – had "less than fifty-fifty" of reaching a final treaty. “On the other hand,” Obama said, “in all three circumstances we may be able to push the boulder partway up the hill and maybe stabilize it so it doesn’t roll back on us."

Obama went on to say that he believed that "the region is going through rapid change and inexorable change. Some of it is demographics; some of it is technology; some of it is economics. And the old order, the old equilibrium, is no longer tenable. The question then becomes, What’s next?”

Last week, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden passed a message from Obama to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying the latter fully supports Secretary of State John Kerry's diplomatic initiative to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

A senior U.S. official told Haaretz that Biden communicated Obama's position and “made it clear that the United States places extremely high value on reaching an agreement that produces two states living side by side in peace and security, but also just underscoring how important Israel’s security requirements are for us.”

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and special envoy Isaac Molho left for Washington Sunday night to meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. The purpose of the visit is to discuss the details of the draft framework peace agreement that the United States wants to present to Israel and the Palestinians within the next few weeks.

The meeting on Monday is also meant to lay the groundwork for a meeting between Kerry and Netanyahu on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos later in the week.