Palestinians disappointed with Obama

PA decries US president's stance on settlements, prisoners.

Obama at youth center in Ramallah 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Obama at youth center in Ramallah 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
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 process.
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 said.
“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 talks.
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 Ramallah.
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.”