Obama on Israel on 60 Minutes

Posted on February 13, 2007 In Blog

As part of his official “I’m running for President” roll out this past weekend, Barack Obama sat down for an interview on 60 Minutes. After discussing Obama’s current thinking about how the U.S. ought to relate to Iran & Syria, Steve Kroft asked about Obama’s thoughts regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Since coming to the U.S. Senate two years ago, Obama has voted consistently in support of Israel. But, not surprisingly, two years in the Senate, not to mention several more years in the Illinois state legislature prior to that, do not provide many opportunities for a new politician to establish the kind of record that longer-serving officeholders have built up over time.

At this stage, in this interview, Obama says some key things that friends of Israel will appreciate:

While he states the standard line that the U.S. should be “more active” in its diplomacy, he acknowledges that “what we don’t have right now, particularly in the Palestinian community, are…leaders who have both the will and the capacity to renounce violence as a strategy to resolve the problems and to actually enforce any agreement that might be reached with the Israelis.”

Obama goes on to say that Palestinians must say to Israel: “‘We renounce violence. We recognize your right to exist. We accept the various agreements that have been signed between the Israeli government and the Palestinian people, and we are ready to create a two state solution.’ Until that happens I think we’re not going see much progress.”

One must presume that, especially in the fight for the Democratic nomination, Barack Obama will have to say more on this critical topic — especially if states like Florida and New Jersey — where the Jewish vote can be decisive — move their primaries up to earlier dates in 2008.

We’ve heard talk in DC that Obama might be doing just this very soon. Stay tuned.