The promise of Hope and Change has left a lot of Americans disillusioned, but they’re not alone. An angry Mahmoud Abbas tells Newsweek that Barack Obama led the Palestinian Authority president on, and then abandoned him on the issue of Israeli settlements in Jerusalem. In fact, Abbas says, it was Obama’s idea to push for a total ban on settlements in the first place (via Hot Air reader AR):
Abbas is about as affable as politicians come—even hawkish Israelis like Ariel Sharon have said so. But occasionally, he can deliver a shot of scathing criticism, usually followed by a grandfatherly smile. A week earlier, he told me bluntly that Obama had led him on, and then let him down by failing to keep pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a moratorium on settlement building in the West Bank last year. “It was Obama who suggested a full settlement freeze,” Abbas explained. “I said OK, I accept. We both went up the tree. After that, he came down with a ladder and he removed the ladder and said to me, jump. Three times he did it.” Abbas also criticized the mediation efforts of Obama’s special envoy, George Mitchell, who has shuttled between Israelis and Palestinians for more than two years. “Every visit by Mitchell, we talked to him and gave him some ideas. At the end we discovered that he didn’t convey any of these ideas to the Israelis. What does it mean?”
What does it mean? It means that the Smart Power administration had no idea how to sell that idea to the Israelis after concocting it with Abbas. Mitchell, who has worked in the region for years, had to have known that the demand would be a total non-starter, especially with Netanyahu as Prime Minister, but realistically with any Israeli in the top spot. That may be why Abbas never tried playing that card himself until Obama played it for him.
This should raise some serious questions about the intentions of the Obama administration in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The collusion between Obama and Abbas on a poison pill demand is either an incompetent attempt to impose Obama’s own views on the conflict or a serious attempt to derail Benjamin Netanyahu. The White House made its displeasure with Netanyahu well known over the last two years. This looks like an attempt to push Netanyahu out of office by pinning him with the failure of the latest iteration of peace talks.
I’d buy either explanation, actually. This administration has managed to damage one of our key relationships in the region while further alienating the Palestinians, which is no small feat. They’re either brilliantly inept or ineptly malicious. There doesn’t appear to be a third option.