Even before US President Barack Obama left Ramallah, Palestinian Authority
officials were quick to express disappointment with the result of his talks with
PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
The officials discussed the differences
between Abbas and Obama on two major issues: settlements and Palestinian
prisoners in Israel.
Click here for full JPost coverage of Obama's visit to Israel
They said that during the meeting Abbas reiterated
his demand for a full cessation of settlement construction and the release of
Palestinian prisoners in order to pave the way for the resumption of the peace
Obama, according to a senior PA official, insisted on the
resumption of negotiations unconditionally.
“We were hoping that Obama
would adopt a tougher policy against settlements,” the official
“Obama wants us to return to the negotiating table unconditionally
and while construction in the settlements continues.
This is something
that no Palestinian leader can agree to.”
According to another official,
Obama also ignored Abbas’s demand that Washington exert pressure on Israel to
release Palestinian prisoners before the resumption of any peace
PA Minister for Prisoner Affairs Issa Qaraqi, who attended the
meeting, presented Obama with a letter from Palestinian prisoners urging him to
work toward securing their release.
Another official said that Obama had
advised the PA leadership to raise the issues of settlements and prisoners once
the peace talks with Israel are resumed.
“We heard some nice things from
Obama, but words alone are not enough,” said an aide to Abbas. “Obama does not
understand that the ball is in the Israeli court.”
The aide expressed the
fear that Obama’s failure to demand a full cessation of settlement construction
would boost Hamas and other Palestinians opposed to his visit to
Asked about the PA’s future steps in light of Obama’s visit,
the aide said, “We have no choice but to step up popular resistance against
Israeli occupation and settlements. We can’t rely on Obama or anyone else to
change the situation.”