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Middle East analyst Barry Rubin lays out the president’s confused and incompetent actions that have led to this sorry state of affairs:
By distancing himself from Israel, removing all pressure from the Palestinians, unilaterally proposing a freeze of Israeli construction on settlements, and repeatedly messing up the effort to restart negotiations, Obama made the peace process situation worse. His failure to handle properly the Palestinian UN unilateral independence bid has put U.S. policy in a terrible mess, with an American veto leading to large-scale anti-Americanism and probable violence both by Palestinians against Israel and by Muslims against the United States.
And now it appears that Obama is going to have to rely on the Middle East Quartet to pull Abbas back from the brink and, in the process, do what the president has been unable to do for more than a year: get the Palestinians and Israelis to sit down and negotiate. Netanyahu, a man with no illusions about the intent of the Palestinians, nevertheless is willing to make the effort.
On the other hand, this Wall Street Journal editorial quotes Abbas as saying, “We are going to complain that as Palestinians we have been under occupation for 63 years.” The Journal points out, “That’s another way of saying that the ‘occupation,’ in Mr. Abbas’s view, began with the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, and not with Israel’s takeover of the West Bank and Gaza[.]”
David Goldman (aka “Spengler”), writing on his blog at Pajamas Media, suggests that “Abbas could not be more clear in his declaration that his objective is not to live side-by-side with the state of Israel, but to destroy it. What sort of concessions are supposed to appease that point of view?”
Indeed, one might see this entire exercise by the Palestinians as just one more ploy to isolate Israel. Or, in the words of the Journal editorial, it is an extension of their campaign to “to harass, delegitimize and ultimately destroy Israel.”
The fact that Abbas is not serious about direct negotiations at this time is borne out by a statement by his spokesman that included conditions for restarting talks. Nabil Abu Rudeina said, “We are prepared to restart negotiations the moment that Israel stops settlement construction and agrees to discuss the 1967 lines.”
The Palestinian refused direct talks the last time Israel halted settlement construction in April. And Netanyahu has continuously stated that he is willing to discuss the 1967 lines with “appropriate land swaps.” Any other proposal would be suicidal for Israel, and yet, the Palestinians refuse to engage in talks, waiting for Israel to make further concessions. They are being egged on by an American president who has encouraged the belief in the Palestinians that he can wring more land and more compromises from Israel if they remain intransigent.
Barry Rubin best sums up the disaster:
What’s important is the result, not whether you think this has been caused by incompetence, arrogance, a thirst for popularity over responsibility, ideology, a personal antipathy toward Israel (it shouldn’t be exaggerated but it’s there), lack of experience, choosing advisors badly, or ignorance among them. I don’t think it’s been deliberate, but what’s shocking is to have a policy so bad that many do.
The president’s disastrous policies and Abbas’s gross miscalculation have led us to this point — where much of the world is scrambling to save American foreign policy from a self-inflicted wound caused by the incompetence and over-arching hubris of the president.
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