Encouraging trip

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has done to President Obama what it has done to all of his immediate predecessors: taken up much energy and produced nothing.

He has made many mistakes. His Cairo speech, in which he sought to ingratiate himself with the Muslim world, raised Arab expectations and made Israelis deeply anxious. He then lost the Israelis when he ordered a settlement freeze without making any demands of the Palestinians. But with severe sanctions against Iran in place and the funding of the Iron Dome defence system under his belt, the US President arrived in Israel this week as a man who appears to be taking Israel's predicament seriously.

Indeed, he appears to have understood that gaining the trust of the Israelis is at the core of his Middle East goals. In his first speech, at Ben-Gurion airport, he said he was "proud" to stand with the "Jewish homeland". It is encouraging. And that alone is an improvement.

    Last updated: 5:45pm, March 21 2013