New US president inherits legacy of “perpetual warfare” in the region.
Mahmoud Muna, manager of a bookstore chain in Jerusalem
Obama is a little bit like a stone of salt wrapped in a sweet. His first speeches to the Arab and Muslim worlds were attractive words, but there was no action, although it was a critical time in the Middle East where he could have helped to change realities for so many people here – whether it was the Arab revolutions, civil wars or in the context of Israel/Palestine.
Israeli expansion of settlements, for example, has continued at the same rate. Israel has not been forced to comply with international law, not during the Obama presidency or before; hence, I don’t think Obama has actually changed anything, which in itself is a failure. We never needed change more than now; things are constantly deteriorating in the Middle East.
With the current candidates, we either know that Hillary will bring no change … or, we really think that Trump will be a disaster, but nothing is for certain.
If, as it seems, American foreign policy is not decided by the president, why then does it matter who enters the White House? It has always been business as usual, from Bush Sr, Clinton, Bush Jr and Obama, the American policy in the Middle East didn’t change. It wasn’t good, it didn’t get worse, and probably it will not get better. It is one consistent policy: a very strong alignment to the Israeli political position, providing military support, financial aid and diplomatic cover. I can’t see any opportunity for change with either candidate.
*As told to Nigel Wilson