Sunday, July 11, 2010

Abbas: 'No point in direct talks with Israel now'

Mahmoud Abbas made it very clear that regardless of whatever went on in Washington between Israeli PM Netanyahu and President Obama, he's not signing on to sitting down directly with Israel unless he's guaranteed everything he wants in advance.

"We have presented our vision and thoughts and said that if progress is made, we will move to direct talks, but that if no progress is made, it (direct negotiations) will be futile," Abbas said.

"If they (the Israelis) say `come and let's start negotiations from zero,' that is futile and pointless," Abbas added.

Abbas' latest pre-conditions to even sit at the table are designed to make sure that it never happens. He demands that Netanyahu agree to an internationally mandated 'settlement freeze', which means the Israelis are essentially going to be unable to build anything in the areas the Palestinians claim for themselves while the Palestinians get free reign to build whatever they want.And he insists that negotiations start by writing in stone as a starting point an offer disgraced Israeli ex-PM Olmert supposedly made to him that was neither accepted by the Palestinians at the time or even cleared with the Israeli Knesset or cabinet - let alone the Israeli electorate!

The Israeli term chutzpah doesn't even begin to cover this nonsense.To twist the old Mafia phrase around, it's an offer designed to be refused.

The real story is that Abbas not only has no incentive to change things right now, he has lots of very good reasons not to.

The Palestinian Authority has the most anti-Israel and pro-Arab President in Washington that it has ever had, and Obama's administration has showered hundreds of millions of dollars in direct aid to the Palestinians, as well as spending additional millions to build, train and equip a Fatah army under General Keith Dayton. There's plenty of money around, and a lot of it, as usual, is being siphoned off to well-connected Fatah pockets. In exchange, Obama has demanded virtually nothing from the Palestinians, and increased his demand for unilateral concessions from Israel.

Abbas Knows Obama will be in for two and a half more years, so why change the status quo when it's so favorable?

It's also worth looking at what an actual peace deal with Israel would mean for Fatah and Abbas. What Netanyahu wants is a final settlement and an end to the conflict, and that's impossible for Abbas to deliver even if he wanted to.

The entire Palestinian ethos is riveted to the idea that someday, the Jews will be driven out forcibly and all of Israel will belong to the Palestinians. It's what Palestinians are constantly programmed with in their schools,mosques and media. And there's no way Abbas can settle for anything less, just like his old boss Arafat couldn't.An end to the conflict that doesn't include the Jews being removed from Israel is simply not going to be accepted by the Palestinians.

An end to the war against the Jews would mean that the Palestinians essentially would have nothing else holding them together and would fragment into warring clans and factions. It would be the end of Fatah as well, as Hamas would soon take over the Palestinian occupied areas of Judea and Samaria (AKA the West Bank).

And finally, it would mean the end of Abbas, personally. No Arab leader who ever made peace with Israel has survived for very long except King Hussein of Jordan, and that's only because he died soon afterwards - after a couple of near misses.

Mahmoud Abbas isn't the sharpest tool in the shed, but he understands that much.

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