Obama is revealing his ignorance and arrogance. The question of settlements has not prevented the Palestinians from negotiating in the past. The PA decided to make halting settlements a condition of negotiation after Obama himself insisted upon it. They could hardly do less. By big-footing it, Obama impeded the cause of negotiations.
Israel has built most settlements in regions quite close to the 1967 borders that everyone believes would be incorporated into Israel anyway. As the Washington Post noted in an editorial implicitly critical of Obama, "80 percent of [Israeli settlers] could be included in Israel if the country annexed just more than 4 percent of the West Bank -- less than the 5 percent proposed by President Bill Clinton 12 years ago." Obama himself has predicted that there would be "land swaps" as part of any final agreement. Besides, why is it considered out of the question that some Jewish settlements would remain in a future Palestinian state? There are more than a million Israeli Arabs living throughout the Jewish state.
Has Mr. Obama not considered that Israel has dismantled settlements in the Sinai and Gaza? The Gaza withdrawal brought not peace but unrelenting missile fire. The jury is out on the Sinai withdrawal.
Like his colleagues on the left, and like his nominee for Defense Secretary, Obama believes that Israel's vulnerability is her own fault. He utterly misconceives the entire conflict, which is not about "two states for two peoples" (which Israel has repeatedly endorsed and sacrificed for) but about the stubborn Palestinian rejection of Israel's existence. Evidence for this is so abundant -- from official PA maps that show no Israel, to Palestinian TV programs that laud terrorists as heroes, to a recent poll showing that 56 percent of Palestinians oppose a two-state solution -- that ignorance cannot be explained as benign. Just in the past week, Mahmoud Abbas decided not to accept hundreds of thousands of Syrian Palestinian refugees into the land he controls because Israel asked that they sign a waiver renouncing a "right of return" to the Jewish state. He was explicit: It's "better they die in Syria than give up their right of return."
That's what Israel must contend with. Perhaps worst of all is the tacit hostility of Israel's formerly most steadfast friend.
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