U.S. President Barack Obama met in the Oval Office with Mahmoud Abbas, the acting leader of the Palestinian Authority late morning on Monday, March 17.
Obama spoke first, welcoming Abbas to his office. As noted elsewhere in The Jewish Press, Obama made several absurd comments, such as commending Abbas as someone “who has consistently renounced violence, has consistently sought a diplomatic and peaceful solution that allows for two states, side by side, in peace and security; a state that allows for the dignity and sovereignty of the Palestinian people and a state that allows for Israelis to feel secure and at peace with their neighbors.”
But Abbas also played with Obama’s words.
Obama uttered his standard “everybody understands the outlines of what a peace deal would look like, involving a territorial compromise on both sides based on ’67 lines with mutually agreed upon swaps,” and never said a word about Jerusalem.
In Abbas’s responsive remarks, he transformed what Obama said into something quite different. Abbas made it sound as though Obama said that there would be a Palestinian State with the “’67 lines” (actually, the 1949 Armistice Lines) as its western border, and with eastern Jerusalem as its capital.
Abbas also managed to shoehorn in a reference to the refugee issue, as if Obama had acknowledged a connection between eastern Jerusalem and the refugees. And Abbas also created a link to the “promise” of the release of still more convicted murderers as part of the “peace process.”
The other significant issue mentioned by Abbas was his claim that “in 1993, we recognized the state of Israel.”
In 1993, Yassir Arafat signed the Oslo Accords, as did Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. In September of that year, Arafat issued a statement that the PLO “recognizes the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security.” Not a Jewish State, just the State of Israel. Few people believe that Arafat ever believed or intended to suggest that he or his followers had any intention of allowing the Jewish State of Israel to exist in peace and security.
Still, not bad for a speech containing fewer than 400 words.