Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Why Won't Obama Pressure The Palestinians?

The PLO has endorsed Mahmoud Abbas' decision to extend his presidency and delay Palestinian elections indefinitely. It has also refused to return to the negotiating table with Israel until all settlement construction is frozen.

The Palestinians, of course, are making this demand of Israel because President Obama has pressured Prime Minister Netanyahu over it. Last month, Obama characterized settlement construction as "dangerous." A week later, Netanyahu announced a partial settlement freeze. But give the Palestinians an inch and they'll take a mile.

But why should Israel go to the bargaining table and negotiate the terms of a Palestinian state when the Palestinians don't have their act together. If President Obama is imposing pre-conditions on Israel he must impose pre-conditions on the Palestinians. Otherwise, Obama is rewarding the Palestinians for their inability to have regular elections.

It must be remembered that one of Obama's rationales for imposing a deadline for the surge in Afghanistan is to not give President Karzai a blank check. But by bringing no pressure to bear against the Palestinians, President Obama has effectively given the Palestinians a blank check to act in bad faith and behave as badly as they want.

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