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Right Turn
Posted at 11:39 AM ET, 06/13/2011

Hamas rules out PM job for Salam Fayyad

Over the weekend I reported that the White House is pressuring Israel to accept “1967 border and then, we’ll discuss land swaps” while seemingly declining to insist that Hamas accept the Quartet principles. Now we learn that the terrorist group declared that the only brake against Palestinian Authority corruption, Salam Fayyad, won’t be prime minister of the new unity government. The Post reports:

The candidacy of Fayyad is key to whether a unified Palestinian government will continue to have the Western backing that the Palestinian Authority has received during his term in office. The U.S.-educated economist is respected by foreign donors and has been credited internationally with revamping Palestinian finances and building government institutions necessary for statehood.

The United States, Israel and the European Union classify Hamas as a terrorist organization and demand that any Palestinian government backed by the group renounce violence, recognize Israel and accept previous Palestinian-Israeli accords. Fayyad’s appointment as prime minister would help allay donor concerns that foreign aid might end up in the hands of Hamas.

Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) said in an e-mail to me last night, “This is predictable, of course. Fayyad was never acceptable to Hamas. This, among other things, made the late April unity announcement highly suspect.” He explained that now “the stakes are higher. Take the World Bank’s endorsement of a Palestinian state. It hinges on two things: continued state-building, and the continued flow of international donor funds. Without Fayyad, state-building stops. He’s the architect. And without the architect, funding dries up.”

This will certainly accelerate calls in Congress to cut off aid to the Palestinians. Moreover, it highlights the ludicrous demand for Israel to sit down with Mahmoud Abbas, who is in league with and at the mercy of his partners, who want to destroy the Jewish state and refuse to create a functioning government of their own. And what of the French and British, ever so eager to recognize a Palestinian state?

Well, first we need to ask what state is that — one run by terrorists now eager to return to the Yasser Arafat-style of corruption? Perhaps if giving to terrorists does not faze the French and British, then maybe giving to crooks will. Cliff May of the FDD reflected on whether “the Europeans support a Hamas/Fatah government without even the veneer of technocrats.” He cracked: “I don’t play poker with guys named Doc, and I don’t bet on Europeans standing up for principle in the current era.” Perhaps, but if the U.S. would cut off aid to the PA, that would at least make it a tad more uncomfortable for the Europeans to plunge the knife into Israel’s back.

Meanwhile, as I reported yesterday, Israelis tell the Haaretz newspaper that President Obama is trying to muscle the Jewish state:

Washington is pressuring Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accede to its proposal to resume Israeli-Palestinian peace talks on the basis of U.S. President Barack Obama’s May 19 speech.

An Israeli source who spoke recently with senior officials in Washington said the Americans were very frustrated with Netanyahu’s behavior, feeling that he was impeding America’s efforts to keep the Palestinians from unilaterally seeking UN recognition of a state in September.

That behavior that the administration insists on from Bibi is: 1) agreement to sit down with the Palestinians when Hamas has yet to embrace the Quartet principles and Abbas hasn’t yet broken with Hamas and 2) accecpting as a precondition of talks to negotiate from the 1949 Armistice lines. In other words, Israel would have to bargain for the Western Wall, which Obama used as a rhetorical flourish at his speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee to woo the Jewish community. (“When I touched my hand against the Western Wall and placed my prayer between its ancient stones, I thought of all the centuries that the children of Israel had longed to return to their ancient homeland.” Well not so fast about it being in the Jewish homeland, I suppose.) To be clear: The U.S. is frustrated because rather than force Israel to these impossible terms, Obama might have to once again exercise a veto in the U.N. Security Council, something the Obama team truly hates to do.

And we see why it is all aflutter. Oh, heavens to Betsy, the Saudis are threatening us if we exercise the veto! The former Saudi ambassador screeches: “There will be disastrous consequences for U.S.-Saudi relations if the United States vetoes U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state. It would mark a nadir in the decades-long relationship as well as irrevocably damage the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and America’s reputation among Arab nations. The ideological distance between the Muslim world and the West in general would widen — and opportunities for friendship and cooperation between the two could vanish.” Never before has so crass an ultimatum been publicly delivered by a representative of the autocrats of the House of Saud.

Mark Dubowitz, who’s been a key figure in developing the Iran sanctions program, remarked to me, “We do billions of dollars of business with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which practices gender apartheid and uses its petroleum wealth to try and turn the world’s Sunni Muslims into hateful, violent, anti-Semitic bigots.” But that’s the relationship we’re nervous about harming.

So it should not be surprising that Obama wouldn’t dream of threatening the PA, which is instigating the U.N. gambit, for forcing him to exercise the veto. It’s clear why Obama isn’t demanding a repudiation of the unity government as a condition of talks. He plainly finds it much easier to savage Israel than to stand up to the Arabs’ threats. And of course, in his view, Israel is the stronger power, so it must give up more to level the playing field. As Dubowitz put it, “In the choice between a democratic, pro-American Israel and her enemies, who are also America’s enemies, how many Western leaders have the courage to say what Canada’s prime minister, [Stephen] Harper, said this weekend at his party’s convention: ‘Moral ambiguity, moral equivalence are not options, they are dangerous illusions.’ ” None, it seems.

By  |  11:39 AM ET, 06/13/2011

Categories:  Israel, President Obama

 
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