14 July '10
Last week I offered qualified praise to the editors of the Washington Post for their observations about President Obama's meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu. The one part of the editorial that I didn't like was towards the end:
Now Mr. Abbas has a choice: Begin direct negotiations in exchange for prisoner releases and other "confidence-building measures" that Mr. Netanyahu has been offering -- or show himself to be not so ready for peace, after all.
If talks begin, Mr. Netanyahu, too, will be challenged. Mr. Obama's counterproductive focus on issues such as Jewish housing in Jerusalem has allowed the Israeli leader to rally domestic support and delay spelling out where he stands on truly central questions, such as the borders of a Palestinian state and whether Jerusalem will be its capital.
Nachum Barnea has made a similar point here:
The ball is now shifting to Abbas' court. In the coming weeks, various supporters ranging from President Mubarak through George Mitchell and several European leaders will explain to him that he must enter direct negotiations. This is the only way to expose Netanyahu to massive American and European pressure and to domestic criticism, they will say.
This is the only way for Abbas to guarantee immediate Israeli concessions on the ground and expansion of Palestinian Authority sovereignty in the West Bank. Should he refuse, the Americans would have to condemn him as a peace refusenik.
Given Abbas's record of saying, "no," I hardly thought that it was Netanyahu who needed to be challenged.
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