Ex-U.S. Official: American Dominance Over Mideast Peace Process Is Ending

Speaking at Presidential Conference in Jerusalem, Richard Haass says Mideast events, short of crisis with Iran, will not impact upcoming U.S. presidential elections.

The era of U.S. dominance over the Middle East peace process is coming to an end, a former top American official said at the fourth Israeli Presidential Conference in Jerusalem on Thursday, adding that what happens in the Middle East wont influence the upcoming U.S. presidential elections.

Referring to stalled Mideast peace attempts earlier Thursday, President Shimon Peres told conference goers that his "own conclusion of how not to make mistakes is close your eyes a little. You cannot make love and you cannot make peace with open eyes."

"The past is dead. You can't correct it. Can you correct something that is dead? Can you correct the past? Focus on the future. You have to take risks," he added, saying: "You have to choose between two sorts of mistakes. You do nothing and that is a mistake, or you do something that could cause the mistakes."

"It's better to try, do something and maybe you will have a success. If you dont try, you wont make a mistake, but you won't have a success," he added.

Speaking on the possible effect that recent upheavals in the region could have on the peace process, Richard Hass, former director of policy planning at the U.S. State Department, and the President of the Council on Foreign Relations, said that the U.S. will no longer have such a big part in future diplomatic developments.

"The issues of Iran and Arab upheavals will dominate the Middle East agenda, and the peace process with Israel will be a less dominant aspect of U.S. Middle East policy," Haass said

The former U.S. official added that the "American era of dominating the Middle East peace process is ending. More responsibility will fall on the shoulders of Israelis and Palestinians themselves."

Referring to upcoming U.S. presidential elections, Haass said that what "happens in the Middle East, short of crisis with Iran, will have little to no impact on election."

"Regardless of who wins in November, the U.S. is done with Iraq, and drawdown in Afghanistan will continue. The pace could depend on who is president," he said, adding: "Domestic issues will dominate next presidency, no matter who wins, says Haass."

Also referring to the U.S. elections earlier in the session, former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Dore Gold said that he believed "the U.S. candidates may look different based on their predispositions, but they will approach Israel in the same way."

Barack Obama and Mahmoud Abbas - Reuters - 21.9.2011