The Obama Administration has from the beginning approached its Middle East policy with greater nuance than its predecessors. A few months after he was sworn in for his first term, President Barack Obama delivered a momentous speech in Cairo which sought to forge a stronger relationship with Muslim majority countries in the region in the context of a post-9/11 United States which was fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Less than two years later we saw the obliteration of long ossified regimes throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Now, with a year and a half left in the White House, the Obama Administration—as all administrations before it—is faced with determining what legacy it will leave. National Security Advisor Susan Rice covered some of the Middle East policy priorities for the remainder of this Administration's term in her keynote address to Arab Americans at our Gala last week. Amb. Rice stressed the administration's commitment to an "independent, viable, and contiguous Palestinian state" and stated that the "occupation must end." Notably, Amb. Rice also called for accelerated efforts to rebuild Gaza, and to connect the isolated territory economically to the West Bank, Israel, and global markets. These commitments are welcomed and they must be supported by concrete measures to actually change policy on the ground. In a year where the Israeli Prime Minister repeatedly insulted the White House, it would be refreshing to have the Oval Office couple its aspirational statements in support of the Palestinian people with actions that impose something resembling consequences for the Israeli government.

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