Not only was the defining matter of acceptance of Israel as the Jewish homeland relegated to secondary status, but Mr. Abbas’s emphatic “This is out of the question” in response to the Jewish homeland question was not reflected in the headline. Equally telling, though, was the rather schmoozy, schmaltzy tone of the piece:
Mr. Abbas, 78, was relaxed and confident, if not quite optimistic, during the interview, sprinkling his politics with bits of humor. It took place in an outer sitting room where the Palestinian president has met delegations of left-leaning American Jews and foreign dignitaries and where, he recalled, the former American peace envoy George J. Mitchell said of the Israelis before departing in 2011, “They foiled me.”
He sipped sweet tea and then strong coffee, twice using a small buzzer to summon an aide who brought a single cigarette. He spoke in English, occasionally leaning on two colleagues for translation. (It took a few minutes to decipher whether Mr. Mitchell had said “fooled,” “failed,” or “foiled” – Mr. Abbas joked that all three applied.)
Clearly, there is a presumptive legitimacy ascribed to the Palestinian positions while Israel is seen as trying to push the envelope and take as much away from the Palestinians it can get away with.
Why this is so is nothing short of mystifying, especially when one considers that Mr. Abbas can’t bring himself to recognize even a future truncated Israel as a Jewish state, or that he continues to honor as heroic martyrs Palestinian killers of Jewish men, women and children, or that even if he were inclined to do so it is highly doubtful he could ever carry out any of his commitments or survive a confrontation with Hamas.