Friday, March 21, 2014

21-Mar-14: If Mahmoud Abbas is your idea of a 'peace partner', skip this post

Peacemaking-superpowers eye to eye in the White House
earlier this week [Image Source]
Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Arab political figure who this past January notoriously commenced the tenth year of the four year presidential term to which he was elected in 2005, adds another peace-seeking notch to his growing list of career 'achievements'. As Herb Keinon writes in today's Jerusalem Post ["Israeli Official: Palestinians Celebrating Failure of Peace Talks"], Abbas returned yesterday (Thursday) 
to a hero's welcome in Ramallah, where he told thousands of Palestinians at a rally that in his meeting on Monday with President Obama, "I have honored my pledge and kept my promise" not to give up Palestinian rights.
Some hero. Some honor.

This is disturbing on several levels, even by Abbas' shabby standards. When Yasser Arafat, Abbas' unlamented predecessor in office, returned from the Camp David talks in 2000, he famously celebrated the failure of those talks too. He shortly afterwards engineered the eruption of the Arafat Terror War that commenced on Jewish New Year's Day of that year. 

Dennis Ross, the presidential envoy who played a central role for the US government at Camp David, summed up Arafat's strategy in 2002:
Let me give you the sequence, because I think it puts all this in perspective. Number one, at Camp David we did not put a comprehensive set of ideas on the table. We put ideas on the table that would have affected the borders and would have affected Jerusalem. Arafat could not accept any of that. In fact, during the 15 days there, he never himself raised a single idea. His negotiators did, to be fair to them, but he didn't. The only new idea he raised at Camp David was that the temple didn't exist in Jerusalem... [Source: Congressional Record, April 22, 2002]
It appears Abbas adopted much the same strategy in the White House this week.

Keinon's JPost analysis today includes this telling quote from an Israeli government insider:
"If the Palestinians celebrate rejectionism, they're closing the door to Palestinian statehood, because the only way to achieve a Palestinian state is through negotiations and agreement with Israel," the official said. "A rejectionist position makes Palestinian statehood impossible..." [Jerusalem Post, today]
Another Jerusalem Post journalist, the incomparable Khaled Abu Toameh writing on the Gatestone Institute site today, notes that members of the Abbas entourage were already broadcasting the failure of his talks with President Barack Obama over the future of the peace process even before he boarded the flight home from Washington:
The officials said that Abbas rejected most of the proposals made by Obama during their meeting at the White House, including the idea of recognizing Israel as a Jewish state and maintaining an Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley. Abbas, according to the officials, also dismissed as "immature" Obama's proposal concerning the status of Jerusalem because it did not call for a full Israeli withdrawal from the eastern part of the city. Over the past few months, Abbas and his top aides and negotiators have repeatedly voiced their strong opposition to the U.S. proposals for a "framework agreement," with some accusing the U.S. of failing to serve as a honest broker. In the West Bank, PA employees and schoolchildren were sent into the streets to chant slogans in support of Abbas, urging him not to succumb to U.S. pressure... "These rallies are not real," complained West Bank university professor Abdel Sattar Qassem. "They are similar to what Arab intelligence agencies have been doing - using blackmail and intimidation to force their public servants to show loyalty for the ruler..." Abbas is hoping to turn himself into a hero by telling his people that he had the guts to say no to Obama...
All of this, naturally, so that he can continue to pose as the one Middle East leader who really, but really, wants peace for his people - at least, for those who are inclined to see him that way. Others (including us) worry about how this points to our being on the way to another upswing in this ongoing war of terror.

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