The Post reports: “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas defied American diplomats Tuesday by unilaterally signing more than a dozen United Nations treaties, endangering the U.S.-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. With the stroke of a pen, a pall of confusion descended as diplomats could not answer basic questions about how and when the negotiations will continue. Efforts to forge a final and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians is a centerpiece of the Obama administration’s foreign policy.”
After five years of endless meetings in the region and in Washington, frayed relations between the U.S. and Israel, countless boasts by the Obama administration about the potential for a peace deal, Obama officials’ constant harangues about the building of Israeli housing and the forced resignation of the only true Palestinian reformer (Salam Fayyad), it was a fitting end to — or, at least, rupture of — the “peace process.” It is stunning that such an utterly useless exercise could be the center of the Obama administration’s foreign policy; but it is indicative of the cluelessness and immense ego of the Obama-Clinton-Kerry foreign policy that so much prestige would be invested in something so fruitless, especially with real crises and challenges popping up around the globe.
I don’t mean to suggest that it is the Obama administration’s fault that the process did not lead to a peace agreement, although its obsession with settlements convinced Abbas that he could hold out for a deal to be delivered at his doorstep. In fact, as a former U.S. official critical of the administration relates, there was never a deal to he had: “Abbas will never sign anything. Never. He is the old man serving between Arafat and the next generation, and he will not sign a peace agreement that necessarily requires strong leadership and selling difficult compromises. His decision to leave the table may be reversible, but he is showing his view of American leadership: Defying the Americans is nothing to be afraid of. In this he is following Putin and Iran.”
We will see if the rift can be mended, but the administration needs to think seriously about its next move if Abbas plays his unilateral cards. The U.S. should make clear that anybody that accepts the Palestinian Authority will lose America as a member. Perhaps that will defuse the latest gambit.
If nothing else, this development personifies how warped is the president’s judgment of leaders and flawed is his assessment of the potential for success and failure. It also confirms how little weight President Obama carries with leaders who’ve come to see him as far too accommodating with enemies and too eager to kick friends to the curb.