Israeli ‘Intransigence’ and Obama’s Broken ‘Promise’



Over a year of direct negotiations between Olmert and Abbas led to a generous Israeli offer that the Palestinians refused to even respond to.

Lengthy negotiations between Olmert and Abbas (while construction was taking place in Jerusalem and the 'West Bank') led to a generous Israeli offer in 2008 that the Palestinians refused to even respond to.

Two of the more interesting facets of Mahmoud Abbas’ speech Friday night were his blaming Israeli ‘intransigence’ for the decision to move forward with the proposal for Palestinian statehood, and his direct attack on President Obama for reneging on his ‘promise’ of Palestinian statehood by this September.

As with most other elements of Abbas’ speech, these accusations are blatantly untrue.

Let’s review the history of the last few years.

1. Following dozens of lengthy negotiations with Mahmoud Abbas that occurred after the Annapolis summit of November 2007 –during which time construction continued in Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria (the ‘West Bank’)– Israeli PM Ehud Olmert made the following offer to the Palestinians on September 16, 2008:

A. Israel would annex 6.3% of the ‘West Bank’ in return for which Israel would transfer 5.8% of Israel proper to the Palestinians and create a safe-passage route from Hebron to Gaza.

B. Israel would evacuate the Jewish communities of Ofra, Beit El, Elon Moreh, and Kiryat Arba (in the middle of Hebron) as well as dozens of communities in the Jordan valley and eastern Samarian hills.  Between 50,000 and 100,000 ‘settlers’ would be resettled in Israel proper.

Despite the fact that Olmert’s offer was based on negotiations with Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinians, Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinians never responded to the offer.

2. In November 2008, Barack Obama was elected President of the United States–taking office in January of 2009.

3. Following parliamentary elections in February 2009, Benjamin Netanyahu formed a ruling coalition and became Prime Minister of Israel.

4. In the early months of President Obama’s presidency (March through May 2009), the Obama Administration began demanding that Israel stop all construction in Jerusalem and in the ‘West Bank’ in order to make “progress for peace.”  Obama strongly articulated this position in his Cairo speech in early June.

5. On June 14, 2009, PM Netanyahu dramatically declared that he would endorse the creation of a Palestinian state if the Palestinians would recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The Palestinians immediately refused to do so.

6. In July 2009, Mahmoud Abbas assumed the Obama position and announced that there would be no new negotiations with Israel until all construction was halted in Jerusalem and in the ‘West Bank’. In reality, the Palestinians had refused to negotiate since Olmert made his offer back in 2008.

7. In September 2009, Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad announced that the infrastructure for a new Palestinian state would be ready by September of 2011.

8. In November 2009, PM Netanyahu announced a 10 month freeze on all construction in the ‘West Bank’ in order to restart the peace negotiations. The Palestinians refused to make any concession to start peace talks.

9. For the next 10 months–from November 2009 until September 2010–the Palestinians refused to return to the negotiating table citing continued building in Jerusalem.

10. In September of 2010, PM Netanyahu announced that Israel would not extend the freeze on construction in the ‘West Bank’ unless the Palestinians recognized Israel as a Jewish state–which they refused to do.

11. Also in September 2010, President Obama said that he expected “the framework of an independent Palestinian state to be declared by September 2011.”  Obama stated that this framework would be evolved through direct negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis–something that the Palestinians have steadfastly refused to engage in.

So, dear readers, when you hear the Palestinians talk about Obama’s ‘promise’, remember that no promise was ever made.  And when you hear Palestinians accuse Israel of intransigence, remember all the offers that Israel has made to Palestinians over the years culminating in the Olmert offer–and all the concessions that Israel has made since then to start peace talks again.

Finally, dear readers,  remember the Palestinians have never made a single concession for peace.

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