Monday, February 01, 2010

Mahmoud Abbas: Israel's West Bank occupation leading to one-state solution.

Mahmoud Abbas is only stating the obvious when he says that there will come a day when a two state solution between the Israelis and the Palestinians is impossible and a one state solution will be the only way to end the crisis.

This is what I don't understand about the intransigence of people like Netanyahu. It is so spectacularly short sighted. Either he agrees to a two state solution or eventually he will be left with the choice of a one state solution - in which Israel, due to Palestinian demographics, essentially disappears - unless, of course, he imagines the world will be content to watch Israel ethnically cleanse the area of Palestinians or perhaps he thinks he can simply continue with Israel controlling the lives, water and air space of the Palestinians.

Abbas is now offering proximity talks with Israel and is still offering a return to full peace talks if only Israel will abide by her commitments under the 2002 road map and halt the illegal building of settlements. To this day, Netanyahu refuses to do so, which makes one wonder how serious Netanyahu is about achieving a political solution here.

I have also been greatly disappointed with Obama's handling of this, as it appears has Abbas:

Last month Obama conceded that the US had failed to achieve "the kind of breakthrough that we wanted" in the Middle East and might not have raised expectations as high if it had anticipated the political problems.

Speaking in London after meeting Gordon Brown and the foreign secretary, David Miliband, the Palestinian leader said he did not know why the Americans "backed off" their demand for a full freeze. He would consult with Arab allies before responding on Thursday to the US Middle East envoy George Mitchell's call for proximity talks.

"If there is any substance in the response from the Israeli side – for example, if they accept the framework of a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders and an end to occupation, with timelines and mechanisms – then there will be progress," Abbas said.

Israel is being pressed by the US to respond with confidence-building measures, including an end to military incursions, dismantling of checkpoints and release of prisoners, if indirect talks take place.

Abbas also said he would be prepared to resume full face-to-face peace negotiations if Israel froze all settlement construction for three months and accepted its June 1967 borders as the basis for land swaps. "These are not preconditions, they are requirements in the road map. If they are not prepared to do that, it means they don't want a political solution."

I have some sympathy for Obama because, had Olmert still been in power, he would have found it much easier to make progress here. However, he is stuck with Netanyahu; and Obama, for reasons best known to himself, seems reticent to take the old dog on.

This has only made Netanyahu even bolder and he now openly defies US policy in the Middle East by proposing the building of even more new settlements on Palestinian territory.

And he has done all this with the American president looking on as though he were helpless.

Well now Abbas is seeking to put some pressure on Obama's shoulders.
But if Israel continued to resist an end to occupation, he would resign and refuse to stand in new elections: "I will have to tell our people there is no hope and no use in my staying in office."
Abbas has long been touted by the American's as the "moderate" Palestinian with whom the Israelis can have dealings, rather than Hamas, who were the people the Palestinian electorate chose to represent them.

But, if even the "moderate" Abbas finds it a waste of time pretending that there is such a thing as a peace process in the Middle East, then Obama's Middle East policy will have failed. And, if it fails, it will have failed because Obama has become the latest in a very long line of American presidents who feared standing up to the Israelis.

It's not too late for Obama to show that he has a spine on this issue. I have long said that Netanyahu will not respond to attempts to cajole him into doing the right thing. Netanyahu is the man who marched in front of a coffin bearing the legend "Rabin is murdering Zionism" the last time a serious attempt was made to resolve this conflict. He does not want peace.

He will only respond to pressure and only Obama has the power to apply it. He should start do so, forcefully and immediately.


Here's the way in which Obama shows his resolve with other nations which defy him. Obama offered Ahmadinejad a new way out of the current impasse and, for a while, it looked as if this avenue might bear fruit. However, no nuclear inspectors have been so far allowed access to Iran's nuclear facilities, so Obama has taken action.

The US will provide new anti-missile systems to at least four Arab countries, and help Saudi Arabia triple the size of a 10,000-man force protecting its most important potential military targets from attack. America's Navy will also begin deploying ships capable of intercepting medium-range nuclear missiles off the Iranian coast at all times.

This is what you do when you are getting nowhere, despite making reasonable offers to someone. You apply pressure.

Why can't Obama apply the same kind of pressure to Netanyahu? Threaten to withdraw American aid and remove the automatic veto of all criticism of Israel which the US supplies at United Nations. Obama, at the moment, does nothing no matter how blatantly Netanyahu defies him.

Click here for full article.

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