The Post reports:
Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said by telephone Sunday that the Palestinian leadership would “study the statement” by the Quartet on resuming [peace] talks.
But Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told a welcome rally on his return to the West Bank city of Ramallah on Saturday that in order for negotiations to resume, Israel had to stop settlement construction on land the Palestinians are seeking for a future state.
“We have confirmed to everyone that we want to achieve our rights through peaceful means, through negotiations — but not just any negotiations,” Abbas told a cheering crowd. “We will not accept (negotiations) until legitimacy is the foundation, and they cease settlement completely.” . . .
Along with a settlement freeze, the Palestinians are demanding that the base line for negotiations should be Israel’s boundaries before the 1967 Middle East war, with mutually agreed land swaps that could allow for the absorption of some settlements into Israel in return for Israeli territory of equal size.
It’s clear what is going on here. Abbas is using President Obama’s foolish obsession with settlements and public undermining of Israel’s bargaining position against both Israel and the United States. Abbas had lobbed his request into the U.N. Security Council after Obama personally urged him not to.
This is not a surprising turn of events. Since Obama took office, his efforts to curry favor with Abbas and put the screws to the elected prime minister of our democratic ally have sent a clear message: The more intractable and defiant the Palestinian Authority, the more mileage it will get. Bring a U.N. resolution to the Security Council asking for a settlement freeze, and you’ll get an anti-Israel rant from U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice. Walk out of negotiations, and Obama will adopt as U.S. policy the Palestinian demands that Israel must bargain for every inch of soil acquired after the 1967 war — and stone in the Western Wall — while the “right of return” remains one of those “hard” issues that will be discussed later. The Palestinian Authority has used Obama’s fear of U.S. “isolation” (what other administrations have considered a badge of honor) in the United Nations to bludgeon the U.S. president into becoming its agent. Obama now scrambles to prevent a U.N. vote, but Abbas wants to up his leverage to get more from the U.S. president.
What is apparent in all this is that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not and has never been about settlements. It’s not about Benjamin Netanyahu “blocking peace.” It is about the failure of Palestinians to “renounce once and for all the creeping Islamism that would sooner see them suffering the miseries and oppression of twelfth-century religious and cultural practice than thriving in a modern society . . . [and to] cast off at last the self-strangling mythology of their own victimhood.” If statehood were the objective, they’d have had it 10 times over. But it’s not.
It’s about the substitution of diplomatic for military means to accomplish the aim of delegitimizing, crippling and ultimately destroying the Jewish state. They imagined they had a useful fool in Obama. Alas, he’s not as useful as they imagined.