Huberman: Let Abbas Say No

Israeli commentator says Obama's speech contained "red flags to a bull" for Abbas as well, and the best policy is to let him be the one to say no.

Haggai Huberman , | updated: 10:19 PM

Obama and Abbas in recent visit to Israel
Obama and Abbas in recent visit to Israel
Israel News Photo: Flash 90

Obama's speech contained demands that no one loyal to the Land of Israel can accept. Luckily, he also stated demands that no Palestinian leader will accept.

While Israel's citizens listened intently to Obama's speech with Israel-oriented attention, no matter what their political orientation, I listened - as I often do - trying to put myself into Palestinian Authority shoes. Sometimes it is a more pleasant way for a Jewish Zionist to listen to speeches about Israel.
Obama made demands that no Eretz YIsrael (Land of Israel) loyalist can accept. Unfortunately, some have already been accepted by Netanyahu.
A "Palestinian state," the "1967 borders," ignoring the Arab demand for a "right of return" instead of ruling it out - these opinions infuriate anyone on the right-hand side of the political spectrum, and correctly so.
Fortunately, Obama unintentionally also gave Netanyahu lots of space to maneuver, if Netanyahu so desires - space that will lead Abbas be the one to say "no" to Obama's plans.
Obama said clearly that "peace for generations will include two states for two peoples - a Jewish state in Israel and Palestine as a national homeland for the Palestinian people." The expression "Jewish state" is like a red flag to a bull for the PA leadership, any PA leadership. This is Netanyahu's major demand, the only Zionist principle he has left. Everyone knows that a Jewish state cannot go hand in hand with the "right of return", even if Obama suggested leaving that issue for the last stage of talks.
Obama said clearly that the Palestinian state will have to be demilitarized. That is also a sentence which he took from Netanyahu's Bar Ilan speech. It has already been rejected by the Palestinians. They have never ceased fantasizing about a Palestinian army.
Obama, in effect, returned to the Bush doctrine, that the borders must be based on 1967 with agreed changes. The Palestinians rejected this six years ago. Obama did not even insist on a 1:1 ratio for  land swaps as the Palestinians have. One of the points of contention during Ehud Olmert's period in office was the range of the proposed land swaps. Olmert, who adopted the "land swap" idea, demanded a ratio of 5:1, that is, for each 5 square kilometers that Israel would annex, the Palestinians would get 1. The Palestinians demanded a 1:1 ratio - and the negotiations ceased.
On the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation, Obama said that the Palestinian leadership must give a satisfactory answer within the next few weeks to the question of how the peace process can continue if this is what is happening - a real slap in the face for Abbas. After all, Abbas keeps publicly defending and standing by the agreement he signed with Hamas..
The main issue upon which Obama and Abbas will come to blows is Obama's panning of PA plans to achieve unilateral recognition at the UN General Assembly in September - the political flagship of the PA. Obama was very clear when he said that "symbolic steps that are intended to isolate Israel at the UN come September will not lead to the founding of an independent state".
In effect, he made it imperative for Abbas to choose between continued cooperation while abandoning the General Assembly track and going to the General Assembly while engaging in a confrontation with the USA.
If my understanding of the Palestinian point of view for the last year and a half is correct, Abbas has already chosen the second of the two alternatives. That, too, is good news for Israel.