Saturday, May 30, 2009

Israeli Embassy 'manages' Palestinian media affairs!

In Mondoweiss, here

"...Was there nobody in the Palestinian entourage aware that Abbas was meeting with two of the more notorious neo-Conservatives in the American media? Were Hiatt & Diehl a suitable channel for communicating with the American public (or even the inside-the-Beltway crowd)? Wouldn't it have made more sense to hook up with more sympathetic interlocuters?

While Hiatt has the reputation of not even letting his own newspaper's reporting get in the way of his pontificating, Diehl is a street fighter who clearly had his knives ready for the Palestinians. It was Diehl who relayed the interview in his op-ed column this morning. The reverberations hit the Israeli media before Washington even went to work.

According to Diehl, "Abbas insisted that his only role was to wait. He will wait for Hamas to capitulate to his demand that any Palestinian unity government recognize Israel and swear off any violence. And he will wait for the Obama administration to force a recalcitrant Netanyahu to freeze Israeli settlement construction and publicly accept the two-state formula."

Clearly unhappy with Abbas' passive strategy, Diehl paints Abbas as unyielding, "Until Israel meets his demands, the Palestinian president says, he will refuse to begin negotiations." To Diehl's annoyance, Abbas "won't even agree to help Obama's envoy, George J. Mitchell, persuade Arab states to take small confidence-building measures." So what if Netanyahu can't bring himself to even mouth the words "two-state solution"? Diehl still expects Abbas to act as if a peace process is possible with Netanyahu at the helm.

To Diehl, Abbas' behavior is just another example of dysfunctional Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. "Both sides invariably begin by arguing they cannot act until the other side offers far-reaching concessions." In Diehl's world, Abbas' insistence that the Netanyahu government acknowledge its acceptance of two states is a call for a major concession, even though both of Netanyahu's predecessors, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert, already accepted two states years ago. Diehl seems to believe it is only reasonable that Abbas and the Palestinians return to square one with Netanyahu, and re-negotiate once again for the right to their own state. At the same time the United States is insisting that Hamas recognize all previous agreements before the US will even meet with its representatives...

Aware that the Israelis will never give his people a fair deal without some pressure applied, Abbas' strategy has over time narrowed to doing whatever the American's tell him, while hoping at some point the US will broker a deal that the Palestinians can accept. ... The only alternative pressure on the Israelis comes from Hamas and its external supporters.,...

Showing clear-eyed realism Abbas and his team told Diehl that "Netanyahu will never agree to the full settlement freeze... According to Diehl, the Palestinians told him their plan is "to sit back and watch while U.S. pressure slowly squeezes the Israeli prime minister from office." They expect that will take a couple of years.

Diehl reiterates that the Palestinians should concede to Netanyahu's latest demand and recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, which in Diehl's mind "would imply renunciation of any large-scale resettlement of refugees." ..

Diehl ends his piece with the line, "In the Obama administration, so far, it's easy being Palestinian." And he doesn't appear happy about that. Would he prefer that the West Bank suffer more like Gaza?

The Jerusalem Post immediately picked up on Diehl's op-ed in an article titled, 'Abbas wants US to push out Netanyahu.'  Expect to hear this refrain from Jerusalem for some time to come.'

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