LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Time for Obama to prod Palestinians

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Thank you for Daniel Mandel’s op-ed “A fatal flaw in the Palestinian peace process” (Web, March 27), lamenting that “American pressure on the Palestinian Authority has never been tried.”

On June 19, 1967, just nine days after the Arab-instigated Six-Day War ended, Israel offered to exchange captured territory for peace. The Arab states responded on Sept. 1, 1967, with the Khartoum, Sudan, “Three Nos” resolution: “No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it.”

Subsequently, Israel offered the Palestinians a state during talks in 2000, 2001 and 2008. The Palestinians responded with “no” three more times.

Even current “hard-line” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly offered the Palestinians a state on similar terms through envoy Isaac Molho during secret talks on Jan. 25, 2012, according to the Israeli daily Haaretz. Once again, the Palestinians said no.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, moreover, is a shameless hate propagandist. He has called the Holocaust “the Zionist fantasy, the fantastic lie,” and during a Jan. 17 speech in Morocco he called Jewish history in Jerusalem a “delusional myth.”

Unfortunately, President Obama ignored this history when he put the onus for peacemaking solely on Israel during an interview in February. Talking with Bloomberg View’s Jeffrey Goldberg, Mr. Obama warned Mr. Netanyahu: “If not now, when? And if not you, Mr. Prime Minister, then who?”

Mr. Obama added ominously that his own “ability to manage the international fallout is going to be limited” if the Palestinians’ demands are not met. By contrast, Mr. Obama lavished praise on the Palestinian leader, saying, “I believe that President Abbas is sincere about his willingness to recognize Israel and its right to exist.”

It was Mr. Abbas, however, who bluntly rejected Secretary of State John F. Kerry’s proposed framework agreement when Mr. Abbas visited Mr. Obama in March. Mr. Abbas added his own three “no’s”: no recognition of Israel as a Jewish state (“There is no way. We will not accept.”), no concessions on his demand that millions of Arabs be entitled to settle in Israel (and ultimately turn Israel into a majority-Arab state), and no “end-of-conflict” clause in any agreement. The White House’s response: Silence. Not a word of criticism of Mr. Abbas.

It’s time America stood with Israel and demanded that the Palestinians finally say yes to peace.


San Francisco

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