November 9th, 2009
01:22 PM ET

Mr. President, take Mideast heat or get out of the kitchen

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/europe/10/09/nobel.peace.prize/art.obama.mideast.gi.jpg caption="Obama with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas two months ago."]

Aaron David Miller
Special to CNN

When Barack Obama receives his Nobel Peace Prize next month in Oslo, Norway, one thing seems clear: It won't be in recognition of his skill in advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace.

For much of the past year, the administration has wandered around the not-so-Holy Land without clear direction, an accurate understanding of Israelis and Palestinians, or an effective strategy.

But all is not lost. The past 10 months could be, to use the president's words, a teachable moment, and with the right lessons learned, maybe, just maybe, the president could get back on track.

The lessons:

Keep your enthusiasm under control: In January, President Obama came out harder, faster and louder on Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking than any of his predecessors. The speech in Cairo, Egypt, and his ultimatum to the Israelis on freezing settlements seemed to suggest that this president was going to be tough and fair. No more business as usual.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, the political laws of gravity that make getting anything done on Arab-Israeli diplomacy very hard kicked in, dragging down the president's hopes and words.

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Filed under: Arab Affairs • Israel • Palestine • President Barack Obama
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