Abbas Threatens To Not Run Unless Israel Agrees to Cease Settlement Building

Abbas Threatens To Not Run Unless Israel Agrees to Cease Settlement Building

Now this is politics. Current Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas is saying that unless Israel drops its refusal to freeze settlements. That is either a threat or some serious hardball politics (or not true, as some of his officials are saying). Either way, it is the most recent of the international political challenges that President Obama has to deal with.
So far he gets a bad score on Copenhagen, lost out on the Chicago Olympics bid, hasn’t made any kind of progress on the Israel-Palestine Peace Accord and hasn’t made any real decision about Afghanistan- so, this one has some clout as far as giving us some idea how Obama plays hardball in the international political arena.

A little background: Israel has been building settlements in the West Bank, which is occupied by Israel but not actually part of Israel. Palestinians have made both violent and political noise about it. Israel has violently retaliated and said that it will not stop building the settlements. Objectively speaking, Israel is just building settlements outside of their country- it would be like the U.S. building some apartments along the highway on the way to Tijuana or something.

With the long-standing support of Israel in U.S. politics, it’s hard to imagine Obama coming out with a hardline response scolding Israel or, don’t even say it, asking them to stop what they are doing. But now Palestinian President Abbas is throwing down the gauntlet- and I’m excited to see how this one goes down.

Where I stand, Israel needs to knock it off. There is no way we can take them as anything but an instigator for building in occupied territory- this is not ok for anyone else, why should it be ok for them?
Obama better watch out for what is developing in that region- for what has become of the 2003 Peace Agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. I mean, Israel agreed to stop building the settlements. 6 years later, still building the settlements. President Abbas’ Fatah party is not doing well- losing a lot of ground to the political arm of Hamas in the last elections. In fact, Hamas is already the authority by way of democratic election in the 2006 Palestinian Parliamentary race. Would they have also found success in running against Abbas if they had not boycotted the election? That we’ll never know. But what we do know is that Abbas is proving ineffective in trying to get Israel to even budge in the International game of chess, and apparently Obama is softening his call for Israel to freeze settlement-building, asking instead for an easing of that building. Um, not even close, Obama.

Threatening to not run, which Abbas has done before, is like a little kid saying he’s going to take his ball and go home unless people listen to him. It’s that simple, I think- Abbas feels like, Palestinians feel like, nobody is listening to them. And I would say that Israel is certainly NOT listening to them. This is not about Israel’s right to exist as a sovreign state, nor is it even about Israel’s right to build settlements in the West Bank- this is about Israel stopping building more, something they agreed to do in 2003 and have not done.

Photo Credit under CCL: World Economic Forum