The Palestinians aren’t suckers, either

The Palestinians aren’t suckers, either

Look at that Mahmoud Abbas – another Palestinian who never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Here Binyamin Netanyahu has accepted the two-state solution, he’s offering to negotiate peace without preconditions, and all Abbas can say is nyet. He’s waiting for Barack Obama to do all the work for him, to force concessions out of Israel while he sits there fanning himself. This is no partner for peace. This is no “moderate.”

So goes the Israeli consensus on the leader of the Palestinian Authority. I agree with one part – that he’s missing an opportunity. But I think the one he’s missing is the opportunity to call Bibi’s bluff.

If I were Abbas, I would take Netanyahu up on his offer for peace talks without preconditions. I would negotiate from a simple, reasonable principle: equal rights for Palestinians and Israelis. Fair is fair. [continued…]

Abandoning reason to demonise Obama

Does Barack Obama represent the best hope for a just and final settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict or will his Middle East policy lead directly to the destruction of Israel?

I would guess that most Palestinians faced with this question would regard it as ridiculous. Notwithstanding the president’s Cairo speech and his insistence on a total freeze on the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, they would be deeply sceptical about the US president’s ability to make any fundamental changes in US Middle East policy. Even were he to make such an adjustment, they would have grave doubts about whether it would seriously take on board Palestinian concerns. And they would be incredulous that anyone could argue that he is doing anything that could be interpreted as against Israel’s interests. Once again, they would say, the Palestinians are being written out of the script.

But to many American Jews, as well as to many Israeli Jews and to some Jews in the UK, the question would seem to reflect a very real and stark choice. While some who are taking sides on the issue are presenting their arguments in a reasonable manner, for others the issue is positively Manichean in its consequences, giving licence to quite staggering levels of rhetorical bitterness, vilification and hyperbole in an area where debate is already dangerously polarised. [continued…]

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