22 January 2009 - Obama's first call: Mahmoud Abbas
It should go without saying that support for the Palestinians and support for Israel are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Indeed, if you really believe in the two-state solution, you have to believe that the right thing to do is support both as they move towards peace.
At the same time, it's clear that the Obama administration wants to send a signal--not just about its commitment to the peace process and the two-state solution, but to a shift in U.S. policy away from firm support for Israel and towards closer ties with the Palestinian Authority:
President Obama placed the Middle East at the forefront of his first hours in office yesterday as he sought to make good on his promise of “ushering in a new era of peace”.
In a flurry of telephone calls from the Oval Office, he reached out to leaders in the region and vowed to engage immediately in pursuit of a permanent Arab-Israeli settlement.
The spokesman for President Abbas revealed that Mr Obama had told the Palestinian leader that their conversation was his first with a foreign statesman since taking office. Mr Obama also spoke to President Mubarak of Egypt, Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, and King Abdullah of Jordan.