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By Barry Rubin

Speaking to Jewish donors (or should we say possible Jewish donors?) to his presidential campaign, President Barack Obama pledged that his administration would “devote all of its creative powers” to trying to bring about Mideast peace.

This is not an art project. What is needed is not “creative powers” but to deal with the actual, real situation. To me, “creative powers” (Samantha creative Powers?) means to come up with gimmicks, to do anything possible to bring about the supposed signing of a peace of paper [pun] as fast as possible. If they know the Palestinian Authority is inflexible, then they will just demand more concessions from Israel. And they won’t bother to ask whether the “peace agreement” they are pushing would last a month or produce a more stable region and a more secure Israel.

Every time Obama says that the “status quo is unsustainable,” he’s suggesting that anything would be better than the status quo. What he would produce, then, is a worse status quo.

Meanwhile, as if to prove the point, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas said he would drop seeking UN approval of unilateral Palestinian independence if the United States offers something better: “I don’t know if the U.S. has another option, but if it does, we will not go to the U.N..”

This is a beautiful example of Palestinian leaders’ chutzpah disguised as victimhood. Let’s consider the following points:

1. The Palestinian bid at the UN will fail. Abbas knows this. Therefore, he is asking to be given a better offer to a situation where he’d get nothing.

2. This strategy breaks every previous Palestinian Authority commitment but he wants to be paid for abandoning it.

3. The Palestinian Authority has refused to negotiate with Israel for 2.5 years yet has faced no pressure or punishment for its behavior. Now he wants to be given more.

4. The Palestinian Authority has partnered with Hamas, a genocidal antisemitic terrorist group that is aligned against U.S. interests and rejects peace with Israel, and the Palestinian Authority has faced no pressure or punishment for its behavior. Yet Abbas wants U.S. concessions to a PA in which Hamas is a full partner. (Whether the coalition collapses in future that is what the United States is dealing with at this time.) Does it bother anyone that the PA is ready to take on as equal partner a group that openly says that Jews have caused all major wars, seek to control the world, and should be wiped out by murdering all of them? Does it bother anyone that the Obama Administration has not cut off all relations or even support of the PA until it ends this partnership? Let’s face it, the only reason the current U.S. government isn’t dealing directly with Hamas is because of public and congressional opposition.

5. The U.S. government allows Abbas to put the blame on itself and promises to try harder, rush faster, and offer more rather than slapping him and the PA down for their intransigence, behavior, and lack of cooperation.

In other words, Abbas is acting as if he’s doing the United States a favor by taking its money, diplomatic support, and flattery when he does absolutely nothing in return, and then demands even more!

And the Obama Administration lets him get away with it.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, and a featured columnist at PajamasMedia His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is His PajamaMedia columns are teased and other articles are available at  

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