More than a year ago, Barack Obama stalled the ‘peace process’ by suggesting that construction inside existing Israeli settlements was ‘an obstacle to peace’.
The Palestinians immediately agreed with him, and refused to talk until ‘settlement activity’ stopped.
Obama applied pressure to Israel and succeeded in forcing it to agree to a 9-month freeze on construction in Judea and Samaria late last year. But it wasn’t good enough for the Palestinians, who still would not agree to negotiate.
In March of this year, the US administration took advantage of an announcement by a low-level clerk in Israel’s Housing Ministry that there were plans to construct 1,800 apartments in a Jewish neighborhood of East Jerusalem to orchestrate a rupture in relations with Israel. After Obama’s widely publicized humiliation of Benjamin Netanyahu (which he later denied), Israel agreed to freeze construction in East Jerusalem too, although no official announcement was made. There were further concessions, but the Palestinians still weren’t satisfied.
Finally, last month, the Palestinian Authority (PA) was persuaded to agree to direct talks with Israel. The talks so far have consisted of the PA making demands while refusing to agree that the outcome of talks will be “two states for two peoples.”
The talks with ‘good cop’ Mahmoud Abbas have been accompanied by murderous attacks against Israelis by ‘bad cop’ Hamas, while Hamas and Abbas’ Fatah claim to be making progress in ‘unity talks’. Israel, on the other hand, has been restrained by the US from taking action against Hamas, so as not to ‘derail’ the ‘peace process’. In one recent attack, four Israelis were shot to death, including a pregnant woman.
At the same time, the PA has not responded to Obama’s calls to end the vicious antisemitic incitement that’s a permanent feature of its media and mosques.
Apparently US pressure only works against Israel and not against the PA, which is funded to a great extent by the US!
Now the construction freeze that was agreed upon last year has expired, and of course the PA is threatening to stop talking unless it is extended.
You would think that a rational person would say to the PA, “look, you guys held up talks for months and insisted on Israeli concessions as preconditions. You can’t expect Israel to keep doing this for nothing. How about you giving something for a change, like ending incitement, agreeing to ‘two states for two peoples’, etc.?”
Not the Obama administration. They are falling back on the old reliable approach of blaming and pressuring Israel:
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, in the first Obama administration comment on the matter since the freeze ended, said the US was “disappointed” by the Israeli decision, but remained “focused on our long-term objective and will be talking to the parties about the implications of the Israeli decision.”
Both US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Jerusalem over the past two weeks to extend the moratorium, and for the Palestinians to remain in the talks. Crowley said that position had not changed, and he praised Abbas for not immediately walking away from the talks.