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      'Obama Can Make Mideast More Peaceful'

      President Obama is learning from predecessors’ mistakes and can make the Mideast a more peaceful place, according to ex-U.S. envoy Martin Indyk.
      By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
      First Publish: 6/18/2009, 1:00 PM

      U.S. President Barack Obama can bring peace to the Middle East despite previous failures by predecessors, according to former American Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk. “We tend to believe that we can make the Middle East…a more peaceful place and a more democratic place... [and] change it for the better…through American will and influence,” he added.

      He said that a major change in American government thinking is that it is pursuing peace not because it is good for Israel, but rather for the national security interests of the U.S.

      Indyk, who supported President Obama during his campaign, told Ayala Hasson, host of the "It’s All Talk" program on Voice of Israel government radio, that the president is learning from others' mistakes.

      He cited as an example the term “natural growth” for building in existing communities in Judea and Samaria. Israel must understand that the term is a “code word” that sets off anger in the Arab world. He said he is not equating Arab terrorist attacks with construction but that both issues have a “negative influence on the peace process.”

      The former envoy, who is Jewish and grew up in England and Australia, repeated previous statements that the “era of a blank check for Israel is over.” Indyk said that Israel often is super-sensitive to the U.S. because the Jewish State is dependent on American aid.

      He maintained that President Obama “is completely committed to Israel as a viable state for the Jewish people but also is resolved to solve the conflict and that will involve difficult decisions from both sides. Arabs must accept that Israel is a Jewish homeland in their midst, but Israel has to define what their borders will be with a PA state next door to them.”

      A large gap separating the PA and Israel involves the delineation of borders, and the Obama government has sided with the PA on shrinking Israel to the borders that existed between the Armistice in 1949 and the Six-Day War in 1967.

      Indyk repeated his statement during the presidential campaign that “the era of the American blank check for Israel is over."