When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Washington earlier this month, he was greeted by blistering criticism from President Obama, who gave an interview to Bloomberg's Jeffrey Goldberg. Obama warned Israelis of international isolation if Netanyahu didn't “seize the moment” by striking a peace deal with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.
Obama greeted Abbas differently this week: “He has been somebody who has consistently renounced violence (and) has consistently sought a diplomatic and peaceful solution that allows for two states, side by side, in peace and security ...”
Obama apparently is unfamiliar with the Palestinian leader's bio. Abbas joined Yasser Arafat's Fatah, the political arm of the Palestine Liberation Organization, a terrorist group, in 1961. Abbas has been accused of organizing financing for the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre that killed 11 Israeli athletes. In his 1984 book, The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism, Abbas claimed that the Holocaust was greatly exaggerated and denied that Jews were killed in gas chambers.
In July 2013, Abbas presented the “Star of Honor” medal to Nayef Hawatmeh of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which, among other terrorist attacks, killed 22 schoolchildren and 4 adults in the Ma’alot massacre.
This is the same Abbas who, according to Palestinian media, became enraged when Secretary of State John Kerry initially presented the Obama administration's proposed peace “framework,” then threatened to overturn tables and called Obama's terms “insanity.” Abbas has also publicly rejected all the key tenets of the framework - including recognizing Israel as a Jewish state; giving up on the right of Palestinians to “return” to Israel; allowing Israelis to maintain a security presence in the Jordan Valley for 10 years; and ceding to Israeli control of part of East Jerusalem.
Here's the problem: Even if Obama or Kerry could magically convince Abbas to accept all U.S. demands, there’s no reason to believe Abbas can deliver peace. His control over the West Bank is tenuous at best and nonexistent over Gaza, which is ruled by the terrorist group Hamas. Since its founding in 1988 on a pledge to exterminate Israel, Hamas has killed hundreds of Israeli civilians in suicide bombings, rocket attacks and other acts of terror.
Abbas was elected in 2005 to a term that was initially supposed to expire in January 2009. Though he remains in office, his authority to negotiate a peace deal with Israel is doubtful. As a Hamas official recently said to Al-Monitor, Abbas “doesn't represent anyone.”
Even Obama has conceded that Abbas, at 78, is “getting older,” and “we do not know what a successor to Abbas will look like.” Inexplicably, Obama used this as a reason to argue that Israelis should strike a deal with him now. But what happens when the successor disavows the Abbas deal? Obama wants Israel to make permanent territorial concessions in exchange for illusory promises of security from a former terrorist who denied the Holocaust and likely can't make good on any deal he signs. Yet, Obama will condemn Israel for failure of the peace process?