Palestinian Authority PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is willing to accept an “unannounced” freeze on building by Jews in Judea and Samaria as a lever to return to talks with Israel, The New York Times reported Thursday.
The newspaper, which often floats trial balloons for the Obama administration or reflects the government’s intentions, said it obtained a document written by PA negotiator Saeb Erekat in which it was stated that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu “can pledge to you secretly that he will stop settlement activities during the period of negotiation.”
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas forcefully attacked “illegal settlements’ at his joint press conference with President Barack Obama in Ramallah early Thursday afternoon, but President Obama explicitly said that Abbas cannot continue to demands that Israel accept all of his territorial and political demands before sitting down for “negotiations” when there is nothing left to negotiate.
The New York Times report will help President Obama put more pressure on Prime Minister Netanyahu to let both Abbas and the American government to climb down from the weak limb of the “peace process.” which has been the cornerstone of American involvement in the attempt by the Palestinian Authority to establish an independent country based on the Temporary Armistice Lines drawn in 1949, otherwise known as the Green Line.
The report in Times provides convenient pressure on Israel, and Israel’s Channel 2 star analyst Ehud Ya’ari said, almost on cue, that he thinks Israel should withdraw from most of Judea and Samaria.
He asserted that the United Nations would recognize the move, a dubious possibility considering that the General Assembly last November gave de facto recognition to the Palestinian Authority sovereignty over all of the land that Abbas demands.
With Obama having the media’s back and the Times’ report floating around the web, President Obama has all his cards in place for his speech to Israeli university students and guest at the Jerusalem Convention Center Thursday night.
He will be at his oratorical best and is bound to deliver a powerful speech playing on emotions that are evoked by recalling the Holocaust and the deaths of more than 22,000 Israeli soldiers in Arab wars.
The president probably will probably not miss the opportunity to make an obscene comparison between the Exodus of the Jewish People from slavery in Egypt, as retold on the Passover holiday next week, and the Arabs in the Palestinian Authority.
As a warm-up, Obama said in Ramallah that PA Arabs deserve “dignity” that it is prevented by the lack of a Palestinian state, which, as every State Dept. clerk knows, is in turn prevented by “settlements.” The same foreign experts also knew that Jewish settlements in Gaza were the obstacle to peace.
The Hamas rocket attacks on Sderot early Thursday were a chilling reminder of the price Israel paid to advance the “war process,” but President Obama, of course, saw the latest missile attacks as proof that Israel has to stop the settlements” in Judea and Samaria in order to make peace with the Arabs.
But President Obama did not force the issue too hard in the press conference in Ramallah. His failure to publicly demand that Israel withdraw to the 1967 borders was met with an unhappy face by Abbas. Virtually all media outlets headlined that Obama chickened out from demanding that Israel accept a building freeze.
But the president is too smart to cause a commotion when he wants calm. He spared no condemnation for settlements, which he said are illegal.
He was careful with his words and insisted that he came to the region to “listen” to Prime Minister Netanyahu and Abbas to understand what they steps will take to advance the “peace process.”
In other words, Israel better accept the tiniest of supposed compromise by Abbas, such as “unannounced” freeze, or risk war, which was the result of Israeli concessions in Clinton’s Oslo Accords, which was the result of Israeli concessions in Bush’s Roadmap Plan, and which was the result of Israel’s grandiose withdrawal from Gaza.
An “unannounced” settlement freeze may not come tonight or tomorrow, but if Abbas makes the “great compromise,” he will have crawled back into the arms of President Obama. He also will have returned to the old game of playing the card of compromise to win a no-compromise deal.
About the Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.
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