Abbas: No Talks Without Settlement Freeze
Talk comes after Netanyahu, Emanuel comments at G.A.
The Israeli government is ready to talk peace with the Palestinians but not to make any concessions ahead of time in order to get everyone to the table, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in addressing the General Assembly meeting of the Jewish federation system on Monday. Yesterday, President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, told the same gathering that the Obama Administration is determined to force the issue as soon as possible, before the ill will between the two sides that has festered since last winter’s Gaza war dissolves the chances of finding common ground. Today, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas—who we don’t think was invited to speak at the G.A., sadly—appeared at a rally in Ramallah called to commemorate the death of PLO head Yasser Arafat, where he announced that he was not going to sit down with anyone until Jewish settlement construction stops. (Abbas’ ambassador in Washington, Maen Rashid Areikat, told Foreign Policy’s Cable blog that he’s delivered the same message to the White House.) It is, of course, important to remember that all of this is happening just as Abbas, who is facing dissent from his own supporters, is threatening to resign, and take down the entire Palestinian Authority government with him. The real question, it seems, isn’t really whether or not the Israelis or the Americans are willing to crack down on the settlers, or how badly anyone wants peace, but whether or not either party can come up with a way to reassure Abbas that they’ll have his back when he needs it.
Documentary ‘Four Seasons Lodge,’ out today, follows them in old age