The easiest way to tell that Obama has run out of things to do in the Middle East is his desperate pivot to the peace process. The never-ending peace process, which is now on its fourth administration and its sixth prime minister, is the gift shop in the museum of the Middle East. It’s the place you stop by on the way to the exit because it’s convenient and everyone back home expects some souvenir peace t-shirts.
In 2013, the West Bank and Gaza are more irrelevant to events in the Middle East than ever before. Like toddlers left alone in their high chairs, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas have spent the last year whining that no one is paying attention to them. And no one in the Arab world is paying attention to them because suddenly killing Shiites has become more of a priority than killing Jews.
If in the past Western diplomats could claim with a straight face that peace would stabilize the region, after the diplomats tore it apart with the Arab Spring that line ought to come with its own laugh track.
If Arafat’s corpse rose from the grave to dance the Hora and Netanyahu learned to shout, “Allahu Akbar,” no one in the region would even notice. The Syrians, Turks, Qataris, Saudis, Lebanese and Iraqis are too busy fighting in the misnamed Syrian Civil War to even pretend to care about a peace process that they never really cared about even back when they were pretending to care about it.
Now they aren’t even pretending.
Obama’s trip to Israel to jumpstart another miserable round of non-negotiations between an Israeli side that wants a deal and a Palestinian Authority side that wants an excuse not to make a deal because it wouldn’t survive a day after signing an agreement was another international demonstration of his cluelessness.