Phony Abbas, phony Obama, phony peace process
In a year's time when these fake, phony "peace" talks are but a distant memory, who will the world blame for this continuing conflict -- the "victim" Abbas or the "intransigent" Netanyahu? Must we even ask?
You have to hand it to Mahmoud Abbas; he really knows how to play the peace process game. For those who don't know, the rules are quite simple. A Palestinian leader agrees to talks at the behest of the US government but before they start, demands unreasonable concessions without reciprocation.
He persuades Washington that he is a moderate, despite an appalling record of corruption and incitement. He then proceeds to reject Israel's red lines one by one, including those which are most vital to ending this conflict. He finally threatens to torpedo the talks unless more concessions are made but has the temerity to blame the Israelis if they refuse.
Consider what has happened so far. Abbas agreed reluctantly to take part in the Washington sponsored talks but only after Israel had released dozens of terrorists from jail.
No one in the west raised an eyebrow, even though this request exemplified a sick glorification of violence pervading Palestinian society. Abbas was then treated with kid gloves by Washington, and lionised as the most moderate leader that Israel would ever face. Adding insult to injury, Obama then warned that Israel risked diplomatic isolation and boycotts if it failed to embrace a unique 'opportunity for peace'.
But consider how illusory this all is. Like his infamous predecessor, Abbas continues to cleave to the idea of a Palestinian 'right of return', a demand which, if implemented, would lead to the destruction of Israel. Second, he has made it clear that he will not recognise Israel as a Jewish state, despite the fact that such recognition is shared by countries and international institutions across the world.
Third, he has reportedly ruled out accepting any 'end of conflict' clause in the framework agreement, rather casting doubt on why these talks are taking place at all. After all, why should Israel create a Palestinian state if the conflict is to continue afterwards? His insistence that the Palestinians control Jerusalem's Old City is just as impossible to accept. Why would any Israeli government hand over the Temple Mount to those who have spent years desecrating Jewish holy sites?
It is clear that Palestinian leaders want Israeli concessions without offering anything in return. The Palestinian leader is thus not a Mandela or a Sadat. He is an Arafat with good PR. Worse, his rejectionism is backed by the Arab League whose recent endorsement of hard line positions on Jerusalem, settlements and prisoner releases is a slap in the face for John Kerry.
But instead of being punished for his maddening intransigence, Abbas has been rewarded. Kerry had previously insisted that a clause on mutual recognition was a vital part of any framework. Then only a fortnight ago he changed his stance. Now it was Netanyahu whose insistence on this clause was a 'mistake in the diplomatic process'.
Apparently, Kerry pointed out, the issue of Israel's Jewish character was resolved in 1947. But it is the Palestinians who refuse to accept Jewish sovereignty, not Washington or the UN.
Rather absurdly, Kerry invoked Yasser Arafat's apparent acceptance that "it (Israel) would be a Jewish state". But Arafat pointedly rejected the offer of a two state solution while his moderate language was a ruse to fool the west. According to the State Department's Jen Psaki, Obama is now seeking to "narrow the gaps between the parties", a clearly momentous task.
But with the Palestinians refusing to budge on every issue in sight, it will surely be Israel that bears the brunt of US pressure.
Spurred on by Washington's appeasers, Abbas has demanded even more one sided concessions. Having effectively torpedoed the talks, he is now offering to extend them but only under certain conditions.
According to the Palestinian Ma'an news agency, he wants Israel to release the remaining prisoners and also implement a freeze in settlement construction. All this despite the fact that the conflict will continue no matter what is agreed in the talks. Naturally, if Israel refuses, Abbas can tell a gullible world that a 'hard line' Netanyahu was to blame.
At the same time, he can keep intact the Palestinian narrative of victimhood and western perfidy which has kept his people trapped for so many decades.
Here's the final point. In a year's time when these talks are but a distant memory, who will the world blame for this continuing conflict -- the 'victim' Abbas or the 'intransigent' Netanyahu? Must we even ask?
Jeremy Havardi is a journalist and the author of two books, Falling to Pieces, and The Greatest Briton
We are wholly dependent on the kindness of our readers for our continued work. We thank you in advance for any support you can offer.