State Department silent on Hamas as 'proximity talks' begin

Look no farther than the communiqué from the State Department about the start of U.S. envoy George Mitchell's diplomatic shuttles between Jerusalem and Ramallah to grasp the delusional aspect of Obama's exercise in purported peace-making.

The Department reports that Mitchell has completed the first round of proximity talks "with Israeli and Palestinian leaders."  That's only half accurate -- true on the Israeli side where Prime Minister Netanyahu speaks for Israel, but untrue on the Palestinian side where Mahmoud Abbas speaks for only West Bank Palestinians -- not for the entrenched Hamas rulers of Gaza. 

In fact, Hamas promptly denounced Mitchell's endeavors as an attack on Palestinian nationalism and rejected Abbas as a legitimate negotiator for the Palestinian people.  So much for this half of the Palestinian leadership, which opposes a two-state solution because it wants to obliterate Israel.

Nevertheless, the State Department, while blind to Hamas in this peace-making equation, nevertheless puts a positive spin on Mitchell's debut as an active mediator. It bases its optimism on a purported commitment by Abbas "to work against incitement of any sort" against Israel and Netanyahu's pledge that "there will be no construction at the Ramat Shlomo project for two years."

Netanyahu's promise is for real.  When President Obama went ballistic about a preliminary planning approval for 1,600 additional housing units in the Orthodox neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo in East Jerusalem during Vice President Biden's visit, the prime minister not only apologized for the poor bureaucratic timing of the announcement but told Biden that there would be no construction for at least two years because of additional necessary planning and review processes before a final OK could be given.  So Netanyahu's commitment not to build in Ramat Shlomo for the next two years is but an acknowledgment that, because of additional red tape, there couldn't be any construction work there during this period anyway.

But Abbas's purported commitment to "work against incitement of any sort" is far more problematic.  For one thing, Abbas has yet to make any such clear declaration either in English or Arabic.  For another thing, Abbas and the Palestinian Authority -- to say nothing of Hamas -- have been unrelenting in waging a campaign of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel incitement in their mosques, schools, youth camps, and media right to the present.  Plus, the State Department already seems to be giving Abbas a big loophole to avoid a complete end to incitement.  Its statement on Mitchell's trip speaks only of a vague Abbas undertaking to "work against incitement" -- not to put a complete and permanent end to it.

Will Abbas, for example, revoke the recent naming of a public square near Ramallah after a Palestinian terrorist who killed more than three dozen Israeli civilians, including about a dozen children, in the late 1970s?  Don't bet on it.

Finally, the State Department -- assuming the role of severe, no-nonsense teacher dealing with two unruly pupils -- warns that if the parties (again leaving out Hamas) misbehave during the Mitchell-mediated proximity talks with actions that seriously undermine trust, "we will respond to hold them accountable and ensure that negotiations continue."

Don't hold your breath.  These Mitchell-directed proximity talks are more show than real substance.  And Abbas has virtually guaranteed that they're bound to fail.

Why?

Because the PA already has put a gun to this entire U.S. diplomatic initiative by officially warning that it will only move to direct negotiations -- as demanded by both Israel and the U.S. administration -- if Obama manages to pressure Netanyahu to freeze all Jewish home construction in East Jerusalem on top of a10-month Israeli freeze of such projects in the West Bank.  The PA in effect has given an ultimatum to the White House that it will walk away from any negotiations if Obama can't satisfy this demand within the next four months.  Netanyahu -- no surprise -- entered the proximity talks by making it clear that Israel will not tolerate any one-sided, Palestinian-dictated pre-conditions for the talks to proceed.
Look no farther than the communiqué from the State Department about the start of U.S. envoy George Mitchell's diplomatic shuttles between Jerusalem and Ramallah to grasp the delusional aspect of Obama's exercise in purported peace-making.

The Department reports that Mitchell has completed the first round of proximity talks "with Israeli and Palestinian leaders."  That's only half accurate -- true on the Israeli side where Prime Minister Netanyahu speaks for Israel, but untrue on the Palestinian side where Mahmoud Abbas speaks for only West Bank Palestinians -- not for the entrenched Hamas rulers of Gaza. 

In fact, Hamas promptly denounced Mitchell's endeavors as an attack on Palestinian nationalism and rejected Abbas as a legitimate negotiator for the Palestinian people.  So much for this half of the Palestinian leadership, which opposes a two-state solution because it wants to obliterate Israel.

Nevertheless, the State Department, while blind to Hamas in this peace-making equation, nevertheless puts a positive spin on Mitchell's debut as an active mediator. It bases its optimism on a purported commitment by Abbas "to work against incitement of any sort" against Israel and Netanyahu's pledge that "there will be no construction at the Ramat Shlomo project for two years."

Netanyahu's promise is for real.  When President Obama went ballistic about a preliminary planning approval for 1,600 additional housing units in the Orthodox neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo in East Jerusalem during Vice President Biden's visit, the prime minister not only apologized for the poor bureaucratic timing of the announcement but told Biden that there would be no construction for at least two years because of additional necessary planning and review processes before a final OK could be given.  So Netanyahu's commitment not to build in Ramat Shlomo for the next two years is but an acknowledgment that, because of additional red tape, there couldn't be any construction work there during this period anyway.

But Abbas's purported commitment to "work against incitement of any sort" is far more problematic.  For one thing, Abbas has yet to make any such clear declaration either in English or Arabic.  For another thing, Abbas and the Palestinian Authority -- to say nothing of Hamas -- have been unrelenting in waging a campaign of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel incitement in their mosques, schools, youth camps, and media right to the present.  Plus, the State Department already seems to be giving Abbas a big loophole to avoid a complete end to incitement.  Its statement on Mitchell's trip speaks only of a vague Abbas undertaking to "work against incitement" -- not to put a complete and permanent end to it.

Will Abbas, for example, revoke the recent naming of a public square near Ramallah after a Palestinian terrorist who killed more than three dozen Israeli civilians, including about a dozen children, in the late 1970s?  Don't bet on it.

Finally, the State Department -- assuming the role of severe, no-nonsense teacher dealing with two unruly pupils -- warns that if the parties (again leaving out Hamas) misbehave during the Mitchell-mediated proximity talks with actions that seriously undermine trust, "we will respond to hold them accountable and ensure that negotiations continue."

Don't hold your breath.  These Mitchell-directed proximity talks are more show than real substance.  And Abbas has virtually guaranteed that they're bound to fail.

Why?

Because the PA already has put a gun to this entire U.S. diplomatic initiative by officially warning that it will only move to direct negotiations -- as demanded by both Israel and the U.S. administration -- if Obama manages to pressure Netanyahu to freeze all Jewish home construction in East Jerusalem on top of a10-month Israeli freeze of such projects in the West Bank.  The PA in effect has given an ultimatum to the White House that it will walk away from any negotiations if Obama can't satisfy this demand within the next four months.  Netanyahu -- no surprise -- entered the proximity talks by making it clear that Israel will not tolerate any one-sided, Palestinian-dictated pre-conditions for the talks to proceed.

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