"Palestinians must abandon violence," the President instructed. "Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America's founding. ... Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build. The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people."
Is that all? If Mahmoud Abbas were like Martin Luther King Jr. and the Palestinians were like African-Americans at Selma and Birmingham, things would be very different. In fact, if the Palestinians were not wedded to terrorism and violence; did not celebrate as heroes and martyrs those who blow themselves up in shopping malls and restaurants; were not beset with corruption, steeped in anti-Semitism, and drunk on maximal claims, (SET ITAL) there would be no conflict (END ITAL). Israel would have long since given up huge portions of the West Bank, as it gave all of Sinai back to the Egyptians.
And then there is the small matter of Hamas. One of Hamas' leaders proclaimed as recently as January that his organization "will not rest until we destroy the Zionist entity." Hamas' charter is explicit that "Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement." The charter also looks forward to the day when "The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdullah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him." Hamas controls Gaza, and, were it not for the presence of the Israel Defense Forces, would control the West Bank as well.
President Obama, who seems to live in a realm where wishing makes it so, waved his magic wand in Hamas' direction, too. "Hamas does have support among some Palestinians," he said, "but they also have responsibilities. To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, and to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, and recognize Israel's right to exist."
Good luck with that. In the meantime, Palestinian hopes for American pressure on Israel have been ignited -- with what conflagrations to come we do not yet know.