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Obama backtracks on settlement freeze

Clinton has formally rejected Abbas’ demand that Israel stop settlement construction before peace talks resume. Thus Obama has abandoned yet another ally—Abbas.

Palestinians started demanding the settlement freeze as a precondition only after Obama leaned heavily on Israel to stop the construction. Essentially, Abbas only picked up Obama’s tune that the construction must be stopped immediately.

It would be easy for Obama to change his view, but almost impossible for Abbas to backtrack. If Abbas starts negotiating with Netanyahu despite the ongoing construction, however small, Hamas would trumpet his weakness and further diminish Fatah’s chances in the upcoming elections. To counter Hamas’ propaganda, Fatah will have to employ still more militant rhetoric.

There is nothing to negotiate about: each side knows the other side’s demands. The Palestinians cannot sign peace without the Temple Mount, and the Israeli government is not yet ready to cede it.

Obama’s betrayal of Abbas is similar to his abandonment of Karzai. Rahm Emanuel openly criticizes the embattled Afghani president, Clinton’s political advisor coaches his electoral opponent, and Obama reportedly refuses personal communication with Karzai. No wonder: Obama dislikes Bush’s puppet.

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