I've mentioned before that Abbas's demand for a settlement freeze is something new--here Jackson Diehl lays out How Obama sabotaged Middle East peace talks:
For 15 years and more, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas conducted peace talks with Israel in the absence of a freeze on Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Now, it appears as likely as not that his newborn negotiations with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu -- and their goal of agreement on a Palestinian state within a year -- will die because of Abbas's refusal to continue without such a freeze.All of which raises the question why now. I've read some who claim that the Arabs have merely changed their mind and decided to make this an issue.
But Abbas himself says that is not the case:
In an interview with Israeli television Sunday night, he offered a remarkably candid explanation: "When Obama came to power, he is the one who announced that settlement activity must be stopped," he said. "If America says it and Europe says it and the whole world says it, you want me not to say it?"When Obama first came to office, the first foreign leader he contacted was Abbas. Obama made a big deal of how he wanted to hit the ground running on the issue of Middle East peace. Later, when it became clear that despite all his energies--and pressure on Israel--had come to naught, Obama admitted that he had underestimated how difficult it would be achieve his goal.
The statement confirmed something that many Mideast watchers have suspected for a long time: that the settlement impasse originated not with Netanyahu or Abbas, but with Obama -- who by insisting on an Israeli freeze has created a near-insuperable obstacle to the peace process he is trying to promote.
Apparently not. It seems that in reality he merely decided that he had not applied enough or the right kind of pressure and just repeated his first mistake: assuming that all it really would take would be to pressure Israel into making the necessary concessions. After all, what concession was ever required from Abbas, other than sitting at a table with Netanyahu?
These talks represent Obama's second failure in his attempt to force peace in the Middle East, as we have seen Iraq abandoned, Afghanistan getting worse--and of course Iran grow more confident.
And Obama still has 2 years to go.
More at Memeorandum
[Hat tip: Soccer Dad]
Technorati Tag: Abbas and Obama and Mideast Peace Talks.