The pattern of Obama making declarations and the Palestinians adopting those declarations as their tactics keeps repeating itself.
1st – and for the first time ever – Obama made an Israeli settlement-freeze in the West Bank a new precondition for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
- Such a freeze has never before been set by an American President as a precondition for bilateral talks.
- Such position has never been taken by any Israeli administration ('dove-ish' or 'hawk-ish') since 1967.
- Further more – Such position as a precondition to negotiations has never before been taken by the Palestinians!
2nd – Obama declared that by September 2011 there should be an independent Palestinian state.
- It wasn't until Obama spoke of Palestine as a new member of the UN by September 2011 that this date suddenly became a benchmark.
- Before too long, the Europeans put this deadline in their statements, consistently setting September 2011 as a deadline of sorts.
- Before too long, the Palestinians have expressed their determination to fulfill Obama's prophecy in September 2011 by asking for UN recognition of a Palestinian state.
And then… In his State Department speech on the Middle East on May 19, 2011, Obama said that "The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine."
"The borders of Israel and Palestine" Obama continued, "should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps…"
Obama also laid out his policy toward the sequencing of negotiations (essentially adopting the Palestinian position) by saying that the "two wrenching and emotional issues" of the future of Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees should be deferred and discussed after questions of territory and security were addressed.
If you want to know what the Palestinians are going to do tomorrow, just listen to what US President Barack Obama says today.
If Obama said that the basis of negotiations should be the 1967 lines and that Jerusalem and refugees should be deferred to a later date, then who were the Palestinians to quibble?
Indeed, they did not quibble.
Palestinian senior official Saeb Erekat, on June 7, 2011, during a speech at the Saban Center of the Brookings Institution in Washington 'staked out a new position' (according to The Washington Post's Jackson Diehl), saying that talks would only commence if Netanyahu formally accepted Obama's 1967-lines parameters, something Netanyahu has made abundantly clear he has no intention of doing.
If Netanyahu "wants to be a partner he has to say it: Two states on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps," Erekat said, adding that without that declaration, there would be no talks, and the PA would go ahead with its UN push.
"I have no quarrel with the United States," Erekat stated. "If Mr. Netanyahu says he accepts the two-state solution on the 1967 lines with agreed swaps, he's on."
Erekat, Diehl said, "left little doubt that he was staking out a position in response to the Obama administration's efforts to restart negotiations – a position that appears aimed less at advancing the process than at deepening the discord between the Israeli and US governments."
In an interview to FoxNews on September 19, 2011, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas insisted that any future negotiations would have to include Israeli recognition of borders based on the 1967 lines.
Speaking in front of some 200 representatives from the Palestinian community in the US at his New York hotel, just hours before he is due to speak at the UN General Assembly (Friday, September 24, 2011) and submit an application for full membership of the global body, Mahmoud Abbas reiterated: "All parties are demanding that we return to negotiations but we say that if (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu does not announce his recognition of the Palestinian state on the 1967 borders and the halt of settlements, we will not return to negotiations."
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Here's the pattern: Obama makes a declaration ('settlements must stop'; Independent Palestine by Sep. 2011; pre-1967 borders) – a declaration Israel cannot accept – and it becomes the newest Palestinian pre-negotiating position.
Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, meanwhile, remain non-existent, while Obama has revealed himself as being the chief orchestrator of such stymied.