The WaPo's Jackson Diehl publishes today an absurdly slanted piece ("Abbas's Waiting Game") that does absolutely nothing to promote the interests of Israelis, Palestinians, or the US in the ongoing "peace process." In effect, he lays all the blame on Palestinian Authority president Mahmud Abbas for the failure to make progress. In particular, he cites Abbas's "failure" to accept the supposedly sweet deal that previous Israeli PM Ehud Olmert offered him for a Palestinian state that would encompass 97% of the West Bank. Diehl also refers to Abbas as the "pivotal player in any Middle East process."
No mention of the catastrophe that Israeli occupation has inflicted on Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza since 1967.
No mention that Olmert's government at the time was hardly in a position to enforce any major deal. (His standing among the Israeli electorate had tanked after the 2006 war in Lebanon, and he personally was under investigation for corruption.)
No mention that after the US-Israeli rejection of the democratic process that brought Hamas to power in the Palestinian Authority parliament (followed by Israel's round-up and imprisonment of most of the Hamas legislators), and after the glorified photo-op that was Bush's infamous Annapolis meeting, Abbas had been reduced to a mockery of a leader. And he more or less is mired in that status even now.
No mention that now, after Israel's devastation of Gaza in late 2008-early 2009 and its ongoing blockade there, Abbas has almost no standing left among the Palestinian public, not to mention the Arab public at large.
Pivotal player?! Hardly. If anything, Abbas has been played, over and over. And he knows it. (And Obama probably knows it, which is why his meeting with Abbas today was relatively amicable, according to the NYT.) And he perhaps rightly feels that it's high time the US stepped up with a real will to accomplish something. And that can't happen unless/until the US allows Hamas into the tent, helps bring about some kind of Palestinian unity government . . . and forces Israel to stop building its settlements and allow Gaza to re-develop (not that Gaza ever had a chance to develop under Israeli authority - see the work of Amira Hass and the Harvard scholar Sara Roy on that score). The pivotal players now are the Israeli leadership, and the Israeli public.
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