In his meeting with US President Barack Obama on Monday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas behaved in the manner of someone doing his host a big favor by simply showing up.
Obama didn’t seem to mind. But then, he has grown accustomed to being treated like a flunky by world leaders who no longer fear American power.
Abbas, too, has gotten used to a few things. Chief among these is his image as a moderate. This would seem to be no small feat, considering the vitriol and violence that characterizes the society on whose behalf he is ostensibly negotiating independent statehood.
He has lots of help, however, in the form of willful ignorance and political agendas on the part of many players on the world stage.
Take Obama, for example. Emerging from the meeting with his honored Palestinian guest, he said that Abbas “has consistently renounced violence, has consistently sought a diplomatic and peaceful solution that allows for two states, side by side in peace and security – a state that allows for the dignity and sovereignty of the Palestinian people and a state that allows for Israelis to feel secure and at peace with their neighbors.”
Though not one word of this statement is true, it is nevertheless the mantle in which Abbas is happy to be cloaked when it suits his purposes. Like his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, he has come to understand the Western game. He can continue to preach the destruction of Israel through his mosques, media and education system; he can divert funds earmarked for institution- building and humanitarian causes to a corrupt network geared at keeping him at the helm; and he can whittle away at Israel’s resolve through a combination of a terrorism, international support and internal Jewish state strife – as long as he verbalizes the right euphemisms.
Even members of Israel’s upper echelons let him get away this charade.
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, for instance, attacked Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Sunday for daring to suggest – as he did in an interview with Channel 2 on Saturday night – that Abbas “is a partner that takes but doesn’t give.”
AS ISRAEL’S chief peace negotiator, Livni could be excused for not wanting her job to be exposed as the pointless pursuit it is.
President Shimon Peres, on the other hand, doesn’t have even that lame excuse for taking part in PA lies.
This does not stop him from gushing about Abbas at every opportunity.
“[Abbas] is a man of principles,” Peres remarked, during a meeting with Congolese human-rights activist Rose Mapendo on Monday. “He is opposed to terrorism and violence. He is a good partner, and I am happy that our government is conducting talks with him. Disagreements are a normal thing, and that is precisely why negotiations exist: to resolve differences.”
Never mind that these “differences” involve the Palestinians’ aim to delegitimize and destroy Israel.
Forget about the fact that PA officials are open about this goal in Arabic. Indeed, mere days ago, Abbas Zaki – a senior official close to Abbas – gave an interview in which he said, “These Israelis have no belief, no principles.
They are an advanced instrument of evil. They say, the Holocaust, and so on – fine, why are they doing this to us? Therefore, I believe that Allah will gather them so we can kill them. I am informing the murderer of his death” (Official PA TV, March 12, 2014, provided and translated by Palestinian Media Watch).
The peace fantasists and Palestinian apologists prefer to look the other way.
This is why Obama was happy with Abbas’ performance at the White House, such as when he said: “Time is so tight and we don’t have any to waste, particularly given the extremely difficult situations in the Middle East... We hope the fourth batch of prisoners will be released on the 29th of March, which will give a very solid impression on the seriousness of all efforts exerted to achieve peace.”
In other words, Abbas was telling Obama that he might agree to a framework for the extension of talks if his war-like demands continue to be met. Or maybe not.
Nor was mention made of Monday’s demonstrations throughout the PA against “American pressure.”
In a show of support for and to strengthen Abbas’ intransigence, thousands of Palestinians took to the streets of Jenin, Ramallah, Nablus, Hebron and Jericho to protest a US framework for extending negotiations beyond their original April deadline.
If it sounds odd that Abbas was being cheered by the very people opposing Washington’s efforts, there is a simple explanation. Last week, he reassured the masses that he wasn’t going to sell out to the US or Israel.
“I am 79 years old,” he declared. “And not ready to end my life [committing] treason.”
Ruthie Blum is the author of To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring.’