Obama Sends a Tough Message to Abbas

May 19th, 2011 at 2:18 pm David Frum | 37 Comments |

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Obama’s messages to Abbas:

1) You should be talking to Israel, not UN

2) Your inclusion of Hamas in your government is unacceptable – and a problem for you not us to resolve

3) Any deal with Israel must be final. No using “declaration of statehood” as a basis for further demands against Israel.

4) Your state will be non-militarized.

5) The border question will be resolved broadly in your favor: i.e. you get territory equal to pre-67 West Bank and Gaza. But the security question will be resolved in Israel’s favor: we believe that they need to be protected from you, not you protected from them.

Bottom line: that was not the speech of a man who sounds like he intends to work very hard on Israel-Palestinian peace talks over the next 18 months.

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37 Comments so far ↓

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  • hormelmeatco

    That seems like a fair compromise, but if I was in Obama’s shoes, I would have just told both Israel and the Palestinians that I wouldn’t care anymore. No more military aid to Israel and no more efforts of on the part of the US to try and broker a peace deal. They can just shoot at each other. It’s really beyond solving.

    • LFC

      Agreed that it really is beyond any outside attempt to solve this situation.

      And apropos of nothing, and certainly no dig in any way, I find it mildly ironic that somebody with your screen name is commenting on the state of things between Jews and Muslims.

      • hormelmeatco

        I made it up as satire on internet spam in general.

        Neither side seems to want to negotiate in good faith. Netanyahu and Israel seem to think that whatever they have the right to do, they have the right to overdo. The Palestinians are the same. It’s not worth America’s attention, time or money.

        Israel is not the 51st US state.

        That so many in American politics trip over themselves to support it is silly. Back in the 2004 election, Kerry was blasted for suggesting that the opinions of other countries would play a role in US foreign policy. “France shouldn’t have veto power over US national security” is what people said, essentially.

        How much US foreign policy is influenced by Israel or made with Israel in mind? How powerful of a lobby in the US is AIPAC? Could you even imagine having an AFPAC or ACPAC?

  • chicago_guy

    Why should any US president spend much time or energy trying to get two squabbling children to play nice with each other?

  • Nanotek

    “Bottom line: that was not the speech of a man who sounds like he intends to work very hard on Israel-Palestinian peace talks over the next 18 months.”

    disagree … he laid down his markers … and, given his quiet history in nailing bin Laden, he seems entitled to a presumption that he’ll nail this, too. I hope so.

  • SqueekyFromm

    Isn’t it amazing when The Smartest President in the Universe gives a major speech and literate people can’t decide if he is getting more involved or not getting more involved???

    Whatever, as he drops Israel in the Drink, Obama learned a BIG LESSON from Sarah Palin, and he didn’t use the term “Blood Libel”. Sooo, therefore even though he is proposing carving up Israel like Chamberlain helped carve up Czechoslovakia for Hiter, he won’t be attacked for being Anti-Semitic.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    • jakester

      Oh please spare me the worn out inaccurate Munich comparison, it makes you sound even more stupid and paranoid.

      • Jeffk

        Jakester, you are sadly mistaken. There really isn’t any way for someone who got their screen name from the follower of Charles Manson who tried to assassinate a president to look more ridiculous. I am not saying she doesn’t give it a good try.

  • Nanotek

    we see mirrors

  • abc123

    Bottom line: that was not the speech of a man who sounds like he intends to work very hard on Israel-Palestinian peace talks over the next 18 months.

    I’m not sure what you expect him to do… Fatah and Hamas are coming together again, and Abbas has lost his remaining political weight given the failed talks.. Isreal refuses to stop expanding their settlements, and Netanyahu’s political weight comes from the settlers .. Neither side has any intention of backing down. Obama has enough to worry about here and abroad already.

  • msmilack

    I agree with what you wrote. I believe that once George Mitchell left, it was clear that America understood it was not in our power to make them get along and that continuing in that role gave both sides a way to postpone enacting what they need to create themselves, by themselves, i.e. it’s time for the two sides to work out their problems face to face, together. In other words, with great clarity, Obama is asking them to man up and make it happen. It’s time.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    Nanotek, I disagree. Netanyahu already has declared it dead in the water and Hamas is nuts as well. This speech was not intended for Israel or the Palestinians, it was intended for the rest of the Arab world…telling the world this is the US position and unless it is met don’t blame the US if nothing happens. Essentially we are dumping this in the Israelis and Palestinians lap. And honestly, at this point in time I doubt the rest of the Arab world really cares anymore. Everyone is too pre-occupied with their own thing, whether it is the leadership surviving or the people overthrowing their government.

    This was a good article from David, from a few minutes of Fox news earlier my understanding is that Obama has pretty much gave Hamas nuclear weapons with which to bomb Israel (I exaggerate but not by much the bs was so laughable) so it was nice to see a real Conservative perspective.

  • Nanotek

    “Nanotek, I disagree”

    you may be right

  • ottovbvs

    Actually he sent an even tougher message to Netanyahu. Return to your pre 1967 borders. Of course Frum neglected to mention that small point.

  • msmilack

    Yes, Obama sent a message to Netanyahu to return to the pre-1967 borders but in exchange for the other side giving up an equally big stake: the trade-off is that Israel would get to guard those borders (which they surely want to do). I am quite sure neither side liked the deal but that’s what compromise looks like; I find that trade more than fair.

    He also gave Israel the chance to walk away from the talks which is HUGE for Israel.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    nanotek, I will be honest and wish you were right. I sure as hell hope you are.

  • Manchurian.Candidate

    So what? Obama can send all the messages he wants.

    Abbas and Netanyahu know that american presidents come and go like the weather, while they stay in power for a long time.

    The Middle East crisis has been going on for centuries and will not change anytime soon. If ever.

    • ottovbvs

      The Middle East crisis has been going on for centuries

      The state of Israel was proclaimed in 1948 which is 63 years ago. Something wrong with your math? God where do these idiots come from.

  • pnwguy


    So tell me. When you – someone with tunnel vision about Israel who tends to view every foreign policy issue as to how if affects them, are saying the president has laid out a fair vision of how the US should stand on this, then how do you convince the rest of the GOP? Are there just a handful of thinking Republicans left in the party? Or is the defining attribute about the party ONLY that they must despise anything a Democrat does?

    Your site is one of the few places on the web that seems to be a rational place for political discussion on the right. And that it attracts more liberal and moderate voices is probably a bad sign. More and more, conservatives don’t want policy debate, they want WAR with anyone they deem outside of their tribe.

    But that same infection has been at the heart of the Israel/Palestine problem since 1948. It’s only when people get completely fed up with war that it ends, or the other side is obliterated and crushed. Which will it be?

    So in talking about Pakistan, various commentators have made the argument that Pakistan was in the “find Bin Laden” business and paid enormously to do it. So they really had no incentive to actually do so, or the paychecks would end. Can’t that be said about both sides here? Both the Israelis and PA have been in the “find middle east peace” business, which pays them billions. It also pays them billions in milking their supporters. What incentive do they have to resolve this?

    Maybe when the US leads the way in ending financial support will a compromise be found.

  • valkayec

    So, why is the GOP jumping all over him and calling him something akin to a traitor, when they know perfectly well that he just stated publicly the American foreign policy re: Israel-Palestine that has been in place for 20 years or more?

    I really hate this kind of asinine political games playing. Send the whole bloody bunch to Somalia!

  • Bunker555


    What’s Obama’s message to Netanyahu?

  • Madeline

    Government Official Who Makes Perfectly Valid, Well-Reasoned Point Against Israel Forced To Resign

    “The United States deeply regrets any harm Mr. Milstrand’s careful, even-tempered, and factually accurate remarks may have caused our democratic partner in the Middle East,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in an unequivocal condemnation of the veteran foreign-service officer’s perfectly reasonable statements. “U.S. policy toward Israel continues to be one of unconditional support and fawning sycophancy.”


  • LJS

    Seems the elephant in the room is the “Arab Spring”.
    Israel has already missed the best opportunity for a more favorable negotiations. Assuming Arab democracies set in the US and Israel will have less influence on them and therefore worse negotiating terms. If democracy is to come about in the Arab world it seems to be in Israel best interest to do something very soon.

  • maxfieldj

    Netanyahu insulted Obama and this country yesterday by lecturing him in front of cameras. This was a violation of all diplomatic protocols. We need to tell Israel that they can not count on our automatic support if they are unwilling to make concessions.

  • sdspringy

    First there is no indication that an “Arab Spring” will result in a more moderate government. Actually the opposite may be more true with a turn to a fundamentalism that will create even more unstable enviroment for Israel.

    Into that situation Obama creates the non starter of Israel worsening their security situation even more. The new administration demand creates a worse enviroment for peace by presenting an alternative that no Israel government will approve.
    This in the lead up to the UN vote which Israel was counting on US support against a block of Arab governments which now has this new ammunition to use in their condemnation of Israel.

    This complete reversal of US foreign policy in regards to Israel and borders reflects a arrogance that if the ONE utters the words the deeds will follow. All Obama has done is remove himself from the process by stating a demand that will not be met and now can sit back and point fingers at governments that don’t follow his silly plan

  • ottovbvs

    This complete reversal of US foreign policy

    Actually the 1967 borders as a basis for negotiation has ALWAYS been US policy. Why choose to lie about something that’s well known. Neyanyahu has temper tantrum and Springy immediately starts lying.

    • sdspringy

      A 2004 Congressional resolution passed with complete bipartisan and overwhelming support stated that the borders established as a result of the 67 war should be maintained and supported Israel’s claim to exist within these borders.

      Otto’s claim in meaningless since you supply no reference to WHO actually believes these borders are open to negotiation. Surely the Hamas believes the same as Otto but fortunately they don’t control the House or Senate.

      So the liar with the pants on fire appears to be the individual with no proof of his claims

  • bamboozer

    I Am Shocked! David likes it! I like it too, therefore it’s doomed.

  • Bunker555

    Obama also sends a strong message to Israel.

    The US should support a Palestinian declaration of independence. A majority of European nations would follow the lead.

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