Earlier this month, it leaked that Israel’s Defense Minister, Moshe Ya’alon, had privately described Secretary of State John Kerry as “obsessive and messianic” in his quest to broker an Israeli/Palestinian peace settlement. The Obama Administration angrily rejected Ya’alon’s words as “offensive and inappropriate,” demanding and receiving an apology.
Yet, only weeks earlier, Yasser Abed Rabbo, a close adviser to Fatah/Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas, also excoriated John Kerry as possessed of “dangerous” proposals and seeking to “appease Israel by fulfilling its expansionist demands in the Jordan Valley under the pretext of security. He wants to buy Israeli silence over the Iran deal.” But for these grave, personal PA allegations against Kerry, the Obama Administration has said nothing.
Why this startling discrepancy in the Administration’s response? Why has it ignored blatant anti-peace statements from the PA, such as the call by the PA Minister of Religious Affairs, Mahmoud Al-Habbash, for Syrian jihadists to cease murdering each other and wage war against Israel? Or the PA’s Abbas Zaki reaffirming that the PA’s public demand for a state alongside Israel is merely a device aimed at eventually removing Israel from the map – a policy supposedly repudiated more than 20 years ago?
Because the Administration will not assimilate evidence that invalidates its public formula that the Palestinians are willing to conclude a genuine peace with Israel. So it ignores or finesses PA anti-peace words and deeds, while stridently criticizing Israel on disagreements and reluctance to make unilateral concessions.
Under Obama’s pressure, Israel’s Netanyahu government accepted in-principle a Palestinian state and unprecedentedly froze Jewish construction in the West Bank for 10 months in a bid to bring the PA to the negotiating table. The PA refused to come until the very end and broke off talks shortly after, but it was Israel whom Obama singled out in a January 2010 TIME interview for failing to make any “bold gestures” for peace.
When in March 2010, during a visit to the region by Vice-President Joseph Biden, the PA named a public square in Ramallah after Dalal Mughrabi, the leader of the 1978 coastal road bus hijacking in which 37 Israelis, including 12 children, were slaughtered, the Obama Administration was silent for days. When Clinton belatedly criticized the Mughrabi event, it was only to whitewash the PA by falsely claiming “a Hamas-controlled municipality” had initiated it.
In contrast, a mere Israeli announcement of building program in a Jewish neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem that also occurred during the Biden visit led the Obama Administration to immediately condemn it and describe it as “destructive,” an “insult,” and an “affront.”
No other state, let alone ally, attracts the same ire, even when policy divergence is massive. When in April 2010 Afghan President Hamid Karzai, in the words of journalist Joel Brinkley, …read more