Obama, Netanyahu and Assad

The big winner from yesterday’s frosty meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu? Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. With the Palestinian peace track once again derailed, that leaves Syria as the only credible peace player in town.

That’s the guiding logic behind a diplomatic fact-finding report just delivered to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, anyway. The advantage of an Israel-Syria deal preceding the Palestinian track being that Hamas would almost certainly be forced to adapt to the changed landscape in ways that would favor intra-Palestinian reconciliation and facilitate a subsequent Israeli-Palestinian deal. It’s in that context that France believes the offer of lifting its diplomatic embargo on Hamas, if played at the right time, could move negotiations forward.

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