It really is hard to find an Arab optimist, who would argue that peace with Israel, though desired, is possible. Much ink has been spilled on the various reasons why peace is not likely. The general argument among Arabs is that Israel is not interested in a peace agreement that entails relinquishing territories. Even those who would say that Israel prefers peace to war, would also say that Israel wants to have its cake and eat it too. Meaning Israel wants both land and peace. In my frequent debates with Jordanian scholars and columnists, I never ran into any who would disagree with the general perception in the country. Why, then, does Jordan support a peace process that will neither lead to peace, nor to stability? It is this question that can elicit different answers. The most interesting is that we should bet on an American role that pushes Israel to meet the Arabs halfway. The record is clear, some would argue. Israel, especially under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is susceptible to American pressure. This is partially true. But American politics changed a lot during the two-term Bush reign. It is true that Republicans and the neoconservatives (who contributed in no small measure to the lack of peace momentum over eight years) are no longer in power, still there are limits as to what President Barack Obama can do. I do not take issue with Obamas sincerity in pushing forward the Middle East peace process, yet it seems that there is a missing link here. To make good on his nice and sincere words, Obama has yet to demonstrate an understanding of what serious looks like. He must present his plan and there should be a cost benefit to both sides for cooperating to come to the terms on an agreement. The party that stalls the process must be held accountable, and this has not been previously seen. The Obama administration has wasted almost 22 months, and it does not appear that it has anything up its sleeve; it simply continues the same tired strategy of urging the two parties to talk and continue talking. Now, the Israeli government is not expected to extend the moratorium on settlement freeze and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will have a hard time convincing the Palestinians, all the Arabs, indeed, of the feasibility of continuing the talks with the Israelis. Some circles within the Israeli government, such as Avigdor Liebermans, made clear that peace should not be a sought-after objective for the Israeli government. To many, Lieberman spoke out loud what Israelis speak among themselves behind closed doors. Few among us in Jordan expect that Obama has anything else in his pocket. All he has been doing recently was to plead with the Israelis not to cancel the freeze on settlements and to implicitly threaten the Palestinians not to pull out of the process. Put differently, Obama has realised the limits of his influence on the Israelis and as a result, he seems to simply continue this tired process without having a proper exit strategy. As an American diplomat once put it, there is a need to keep the ball up in the air to keep the game going. The question that interests us in this part of the world has nothing to do with the continuation of a rather boring game, but what Abbas exit strategy is in case he decides to bolt from this exercise. The Arab League should not give him another cover, but at the same time it should protect him against the American wrath in case he decides that he is no longer interested in keeping the ball up in the air. Jordon Times