In advance of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent visit to the United States, President Obama gave an interview in which he viciously attacked Israel, suggesting that Israel was the cause of the peace process failure, that the United States could no longer protect Israel if the peace process failed and that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was a man of peace.
President Obama meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the Oval Office. (Alex Wong/European Pressphoto Agency)
This past week, Abbas came to visit Obama at the White House. In advance of his trip, Obama made no statements expressing displeasure with the Palestinian Authority’s intransigence and its continued demonization of Israel. Just before the meeting Obama told the assembled press corps:
I have to commend President Abbas. He has been somebody who has consistently renounced violence, has consistently sought a diplomatic and peaceful solution that allows for two states, side by side, in peace and security; a state that allows for the dignity and sovereignty of the Palestinian people and a state that allows for Israelis to feel secure and at peace with their neighbors. . . . I also want to point out that the Palestinian Authority has continued to try to build strong institutions in preparation for a day in which the Palestinians have their own state, and I will continue to emphasize the importance of rule of law, transparency, and effective reform so that not only do the Palestinians ultimately have a state on paper, but, more importantly, they have one that actually delivers on behalf of their people.
In fact, Abbas last year forced out the only true Palestinian reformer Salam Fayyad, has refused to hold elections and occupies the presidency beyond the legally allotted term. Moreover, as former deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams explains: “By making the ‘right of return’ a personal right for each Palestinian, Abbas is saying the PLO has no right to negotiate over it and no right to sign an agreement that defeats or even limits that ‘right.’ If that’s really the PLO position, there will never be an agreement.”
How did the Abbas-Obama meeting go? The Times of Israel reports:
On his trip to Washington this week, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas rejected US Secretary of State John Kerry’s framework document for continued peace talks with Israel, and issued “three no’s” on core issues, leaving the negotiations heading for an explosive collapse, an Israeli TV report said Friday. . . .
Specifically, the report said, Abbas rejected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand that he recognize Israel as a Jewish state. He also refused to abandon the Palestinian demand for a “right of return” for millions of Palestinians and their descendants — a demand that, if implemented, would drastically alter Israel’s demographic balance and which no conceivable Israeli government would accept. And finally, he refused to commit to an “end of conflict,” under which a peace deal would represent the termination of any further Palestinian demands of Israel.
We can therefore see that Obama’s words are entirely at odds with the conduct of the parties in the region. He either chooses to misrepresent the facts or he is blinded by unremitting hostility to Israel. In any event, he indulges the PA’s intransigence despite replete evidence that this only worsens the divide between the parties. The inescapable takeaway is that Obama lacks real affection for the Jewish state and when things fail intends to blame Israel.
In that vein, Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies predicts:
Led by Secretary of State John Kerry and managed by veteran diplomat Martin Indyk, Washington has labored to restart the peace process. And while the administration has placed significant pressure on Israel to make concessions on borders, Jerusalem and settlements, one of the major demands on the Palestinians has been to halt the international bid for recognition.
Skeptical of the entire process after decades of fruitless negotiations, the Palestinians have nevertheless abided by this demand. But they have also made it clear that they continue to study steps to join UN treaties and bodies. . . . Abbas himself has threatened, “If we don’t obtain our rights through negotiations, we have the right to go to international institutions.” Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi also warned that the Palestinian leadership was ready to join sixteen agencies beginning in April 2014. “Everything is in place and will be set in motion,” Ashrawi claimed. By late December, Saeb Erekat told Maan News Agency that there were no less than sixty-three member agencies of the UN that the PLO sought to join.
While Schanzer concludes that “it is clear that the Palestinians have a ready-made policy to pursue should the current talks break down. Unlike in 2000, when the collapse in diplomacy prompted a violent intifada, this failure will yield a diplomatic intifada,whereby the Palestinians pressure Israel using their leverage with the international community. It’s nonviolent, but its war by other means.” And it is equally clear that the administration will be a willing partner in assigning blame to Israel. The president is setting Israel up, and Israel and its friends should be prepared to vigorously and publicly reveal the president’s mendacity.