Washington Post gets it: Abbas no better than Arafat

Friday, February 25, 2011 |  Ryan Jones

Though it didn’t go so far as to compare the clean-cut current Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, to his belligerent, gun-wielding predecessor and mentor, Yasser Arafat, the Washington Post last week did signal that it has finally woken up to the fact that Abbas is not truly interested in peace.

After the debacle of Arafat, Washington and the West were nearly giddy at the prospect of working with the more soft-spoken Abbas, insisting that his calm demeanor and good taste in neckties were evidence that he was a true moderate and viable peace partner.

But the shine has begun to wear off, and even members of America’s liberal press are realizing that Abbas is no better than the man who trained him, and remains dedicated to Arafat’s vision.

Had the Post and rest of the Western elite paid any attention whatsoever to what Abbas has been saying for years in Arabic, they would have come to this realization far sooner. But, I digress. They are coming to this realization now, and, as they say, “better late than never.”

In its Friday editorial, the Washington Post slammed Abbas for insisting he is interested in peace, but then failing to take advantage of having a president so dedicated to that cause in the White House.

“For two years [Abbas] has enjoyed the support of a US president more sympathetic to the Palestinian cause than most, if not all, of his predecessors,” wrote the Post. “Yet Mr. Abbas has mostly refused to participate in the direct peace talks that Barack Obama made one of his top foreign policy priorities.”

On top of that, the paper noted that Abbas now appears “bent on embarrassing and antagonizing the US administration.”

The editorial was referring to Abbas’ insistence on going through with last week’s UN Security Council vote on an anti-Israel resolution that Obama pleaded with him to pull from the agenda. As Obama told Abbas would happen, the US was forced to veto the resolution, which would have officially made it illegal for Jews to live in Judea and Samaria.

The White House explained that while it agreed that Jews should not be allowed to live in their biblical heartland, a unilateral action via the UN Security Council was only going to make direct peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel impossible.

In addition to having no impact on Jewish settlement activity, the Post opined that by forcing the US to veto the resolution, Abbas had risked causing the protests across the Arab world against autocratic rule “to take an ugly anti-American turn.” But, perhaps that was the point.

The paper concluded that Abbas’ actions may not make much sense, but that is only true “if one assumes that he is genuinely interested in a peace deal.”

Perhaps, the Post suggested, it is time to take a hard look at all that evidence pointing to the fact Abbas is no better than Arafat. “If the UN resolution veto has one good effect, perhaps it will be to prompt a reevaluation of a leader who has repeatedly proved both weak and intransigent.”

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