Every day, major stories come out of the Middle East. And behind each of these stories are major developments that deserve of our attention and, more often than not, our intense concern. Just this week, major stories have come out of Syria, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, Yemen and Pakistan that are all deeply disconcerting.
In Syria, dictator Bashar Assad’s violent repression of the popular revolt against his tyrannical, minority regime has exposed the Syrian leader as a vicious murderer. While there is some room for hope that the Syrian people may successfully overthrow him, given the US’s refusal to provide any tangible assistance to the regime opponents, it is hard to see how such a happy future could come about.
For his part, Assad is the beneficiary of a steady stream of support from the Iranian regime. The mullahs and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards will ensure that he never runs out of bullets to kill his people.
As to the Palestinian Authority, this week’s Fatah-Hamas coalition negotiations in Cairo revealed the depth and breadth of Hamas’s control over the unity government now being formed. Despite massive American pressure, Hamas successfully vetoed Fatah’s bid to retain Salam Fayyad as prime minister in the unity government.
Moreover, in the face of significant international pressure, Hamas maintains its refusal to accept the so-called Quartet conditions of recognizing Israel, ending terrorism and agreeing to respect all previous agreements signed between the Palestinians and Israel.
Given Hamas’s maintenance of its annihilationist goals toward Israel and Fatah’s inability to convince Hamas to accept its minimal demands, it is obvious that Hamas is the stronger force in the Palestinian unity government. It is also clear that this government will not under any circumstances agree to make peace with Israel.
And yet, in the face of these realities, US President Barack Obama is intensifying his pressure on Israel to agree to the now-powerless Fatah’s preconditions for negotiating. Indeed, he has adopted Fatah’s preconditions as his own.
Obama is demanding that Israel agree to surrender its right to defensible borders by insisting that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu accept the pre-1967 boundaries – that is the 1949 armistice lines – as the starting point for future negotiations. Since Obama surely recognizes that a Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority will not accept Israeli control over anything from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem to the Jordan Valley, he knows that he is requiring that Israel surrender its right to defensible borders before it even begins negotiating.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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