Today, we learn that Abbas is now pushing hard to form a unity government of technocrats that will explicitly adhere the the Quartet demands, one of which being the explicit recognition of Israel.
Not impressed? Let me explain why you should be.
Sources for Haaretz in Israel are indicating that Abbas plans to form a government, with Hamas representatives, that will accept American demands. And sources also indicate that Hamas, despite its virulent views (such as calling for the destruction of the Jewish state) is going to, for the first time, have representatives that go along with acceding to American demands. Namely: recognition of Israel's right to exist.
The profundity of this, if it indeed occurs, cannot be overstated...
What is happening right now is playing out exactly as Netanyahu hoped it would not, and exactly how the Palestinians and the White House would like. If the Palestinians indeed form a unity government that recognizes Israel, and Netanyahu does not make a good faith effort to return to the bargaining table according to the Quartet's demands (and his Congress speech showed he would not), then this is what will likely follow:
1. The Palestinians will be able to say, "Look, we tried. We did what we had to, we got Hamas to recognize the need to negotiate with Israel, to recognize Israel as legitimate, and see where it got us? Our only choice now is the United Nations."
2. Obama and the administration, which will publicly reject the Palestinians' United Nations declaration of statehood – a declaration that will be approved – will, in the aftermath, say, "Look, we opposed this. But it is a matter now of international law, and must be respected. A path must be found."
This stage is being set for both the Palestinians to declare statehood and for the Obama administration to circumvent Netanyahu's obstructionism. All the while not going toe-to-toe with America's conservative Israel lobby.
Obama and the Palestinians are about to box Netanyahu in a corner. It will be his move. For Israel's sake, let us hope that he chooses to keep his word: that he will negotiate with a unity Palestinian government that recognizes Israel.
And who is partially responsible for putting Netanyahu in that corner? Quietly, is is Obama.
Let me say that there is a good bit of speculation in all of this. But it sure rings true to the kind of approach President Obama would take. Almost all of the focus in the US has been on Netanyahu and his intransigence. That is a given and seems to lead to a stalemate. So would it surprise any of us that Obama is aware of that too and would take a different path towards finding a way to work with Abbas? And if Abbas pulls this off, where does that leave Netanyahu? In the same position that most of Obama's opponents find themselves...with the option to either join the conversation in a productive way or be further marginalized. Its classic conciliatory rhetoric as ruthless strategy.
Barack is not a politician first and foremost. He's a community activist exploring the viability of politics to make change.
- Michelle Obama, 2005