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Monday, August 30, 2010

New York Times Editorial: "New Chance for Peace"

In an editorial entitled "New Chance for Peace" (, The New York Times today declares:

"Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, will open talks on a two-state solution on Thursday in Washington. These will be the first direct negotiations between the two sides in 20 months, and there will be an early test of the two leaders’ seriousness of purpose."

The New York Times is quick to compliment the Obama administration for bringing about these talks; however, their delay is also the fruit of Obama's misguided work. The Obama administration foolishly talked Abbas up a tree – it was impossible for Abbas to demand less than Obama -- and only now, near the end of Israel's moratorium of "settlement" construction, which includes building in East Jerusalem and the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, has Obama succeeded in bringing Abbas to the negotiating table.

Let us hope that the talks bring achievements, yet an advance indication of Abbas's "seriousness of purpose" is to be found in his prior delaration:

"'I will wait for Hamas to accept international commitments. I will wait for Israel to freeze settlements,' he said. 'Until then, in the West Bank we have a good reality . . . the people are living a normal life.'"

Satisfied with 8% GDP growth, security collaboration with Israel against Hamas, and only 14 remaining Israeli checkpoints, Abbas will be loathe to take steps which could jeopardize Fatah's dominion over the West Bank.

Abbas previously rejected the 2008 peace offer of former Israeli Prime Minister Olmert, which included a swap of Israeli territory for settlement blocs and a safe passage corridor between the West Bank and Gaza. The overriding question is whether Abbas is now strong enough to ignore the inevitable death threats, which will come from Hamas and other radical Palestinian elements. In addition, Syria's Assad, unwilling to brook a Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement, could also derail the process; observe the fate of Lebanon's Rafik Hariri.

I find it personally encouraging that The New York Times editorial board today has avoided the hateful, tendentious characterization that found its way into another recent editorial entitled "President Abbas and Peace Talks" (, in which Netanyahu was labeled a "master manipulator". Today, the editorial board belatedly acknowledges:

"To Mr. Netanyahu’s credit, settlement has slowed considerably since the 10-month moratorium was put in place, and that has improved the atmosphere for negotiations."

Better late than never?

[The New York Times refused to post this comment in response to their editorial. What a surprise . . .]


  1. And do not forget that Palestinians will loose the status of victims in any agreement with Israel. I can not imagine, how they can part with this role voluntarily.

    Any agreement with Israel may cause civil war not only between Palestinians, but also in other countries like Jordan and Lebanon, where Palestinian refugees will loose their "temporary" status. It means, Arabs will oppose any settlement without "right of return".

    Abbas is not legitimate enough to take such risks.

    Who needs these talks besides Obama?

  2. Hi Marina,

    Much, indeed, rides on these talks for Obama. He has failed everywhere else, and a successful resolution involving these talks might prove his only achievement, foreign affairs or otherwise, prior to the 2012 elections.

  3. JG, that is the nano-thinnest thread for an Obama achievement - he'll get more credit for saving the auto industry :)
    Even he must, in private, realize that dragging Abbas to the table, kicking and whining, is the prelude to failure. The best Obama can hope for is that they keep talking over coffee, like the Cypriot leaders do. Unlikely Hamas will allow that. A Hamas attack on September 3, also Al Qods day, may actually become a gamechanger that allows everyone else to save face.

    Reading my tea leaves, it is hard to see the Democratic Party even nominating Obama again. Obama is NOT Harry Truman, who almost failed to get the nomination in 1948, by any measure.

    My comment to the NYT editorial above made the cutoff - they stopped at 71 comments.

    I am #50:
    "...Palestinians are justifiably concerned that settlement projects nibble away at the land available for their future state...."

    Why is no one "justifiably concerned" that a future Palestinian state MUST be cleansed of Jews? Is there no option to include Jews living in, for example, Ariel, as residents of a future Palestinian state?

    Or are the textbooks and maps used in all Palestinian classromms to be believed - that there is NO state called Israel, only a Palestine that must be 100% Muslim, with no indigenous Christians allowed either?

    How does Mahmoud Abbas, whose term as President of the PA expired in January, 2009, have the legitimacy to agree to anything?"

    Posing the question of why Palestine must be Judenrein is one way to chip away at the 'settlements are the problem' mantra that the NYT and the scolding left still push every chance they get.