by Barry Rubin
The White House released what it calls a "Readout of the President's Call with President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority" which summarizes President Barack Obama's telephone conversation with Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas. Let's analyze it.
"The President congratulated President Abbas on the start of Israeli-Palestinian proximity talks."
"He reiterated his strong support for the establishment of an independent, viable Palestinian state living in peace and security with
This is the basic stance of
"The President and President Abbas discussed the need for both parties to negotiate seriously and in good faith, and to move from proximity talks to direct negotiations as soon as possible in order to reach an agreement on permanent status issues."
"The President expressed appreciation for President's Abbas recent outreach to the Israeli people by appearing on Israeli television...
Abbas's performance in the television interview was conciliatory in terms of style but not very persuasive, especially since Israelis know very well how hostile he is toward
The main problem, though, is that Abbas's message basically came down to saying that Israelis should trust him. Needless to say, this kind of thing has been tried in the past but hasn't worked out very well.
His claim to speak for "all Palestinians," that is including those under Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip, and insistence the two sides would achieve unity was particularly amusing. Incidentally, one of the most interesting aspects of the interview is that Abbas flatly refused to say that he preferred Obama to his predecessor, George W. Bush. That's a point that should inspire some thinking in
"and [Obama] urged that President Abbas do everything he can to prevent acts of incitement or delegitimization of
This is interesting and could be encouraging. Obama is asking Abbas to do something and that was the right thing to say. But here's the problem: as Abbas engages in incitement, the PA incites, and the PA doesn't interfere with incitement, will Obama say or do something?
After all, we know that if an Israeli construction crew turns over some shovels of dirt for a construction project in east
But let's consider what's going on meanwhile in the real world. Palestinian Media Watch reports that on the PA's own television station this week the program "We Are Returning," shows a map in which all of
The program explains that Israeli Jews should go to places like the
This kind of thing goes on in PA-controlled mosques, classrooms, media, and in speeches by PA or Fatah officials on a daily basis. The
"The President confirmed his intention to hold both sides accountable for actions that undermine trust during the talks."
Both sides? See previous paragraph. One certainly hopes so but sort of doubts that.
"He said he looks forward to receiving President Abbas at the White House soon."
No doubt he will receive a warmer greeting than the one given to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his last visit.
Any way, that's the thing about official statements. If the government making them actually did what it said things wouldn't be so bad.
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