Friday, September 25, 2009

News Flash! Palestinian Leader Throws Pie in Obama's Face, Rejects Obama’s Attempt to Help Him Get a State

By Barry Rubin

No matter how hard President Barack Obama insists the Palestinians are in a desperate situation and are eager for a state as soon as possible, they show the opposite to be true.

No matter how hard President Barack Obama tries to help the Palestinians they throw a pie in his face.

Will he get the message and adjust accordingly?

No sooner had Obama made his UN speech insisting on an instant return to final-status negotiations did Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu say “Yes!” (Note: Will the media start reporting Netanyahu as peace-oriented and moderate?)

No sooner had Obama done so that Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas said, “No!” (Note: Will the media start reporting Abbas as a hardliner who is blocking peace?)

And now the news: Abbas says the Palestinians cannot return to peace talks because of “fundamental disagreements” on the agenda and that it has “no common ground” with Israel’s government. (Funny, Obama said that making peace would be easy.) Even if Israel were to stop 95 percent of the construction, explains Abbas, that won’t be sufficient.

Yet Abbas has a simple way of stopping all such construction forever: be flexible and negotiate a peace agreement. Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon made this point precisely. When Israel made peace with Egypt and pulled out of Sinai it dismantled all settlements. When Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip it dismantled all the settlements. If the Palestinian Authority makes a deal with Israel all settlements on the new country's territory would be gone. So what's Abbas's problem?

Well, first he wants a pay-off from Obama for helping out the U.S. president. All the U.S. aid money wasn't enough, the distancing from Israel wasn't enough. The flattery of the Palestinians and of Islam wasn't enough. No matter what Obama does it will never be enough.

Second, he's afraid of Hamas. As the AP put it:

“If Abbas returns to talks now, without a freeze in place, he is likely to lose more credibility at home where he has been locked in a power struggle with his Islamic militant Hamas rivals. Hamas, which threw Abbas' forces out of the Gaza Strip two years ago, has derided negotiations as a waste of time and portrayed Abbas as a Western lackey.”

If this were the problem, however, Abbas has an easy solution: negotiate seriously, get a state, remove the Israeli presence, obtain lots of aid money, and prove that diplomacy worked. He'd be a hero, right?


Why doesn’t anyone stop to think that if Abbas were to make an actual deal with Israel he’d be called things a lot worse than lackey. If he can't even talk when one apartment is being built how is he going to give Israel full recognition, end the conflict forever, resettle all refugees in Palestine, and stop cross-border terrorist attacks on Israel?

Explain this to me, too: Obama said in Cairo that the Palestinians face an “intolerable” situation. If they’re so desperate why are they in so little hurry?

The answer to all these questions is simple: Both the PA and Hamas are ready to wait for decades and put off getting a state in hopes of wiping Israel off the map completely and getting everything. This may not make sense to the average American or European but it is nontheless the reality of the situation.

If developments keep contradicting your view of reality it is necessary to change your analysis.

When will the U.S. and Western European governments comprehend this fact?

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