Friday, November 9, 2012

Daoud Kuttab on Obama and Peace

With Obama's winning of the Presidency the Huffington Post has launched into a series of articles about the Middle East and especially Israel. No word from most of the usual suspects but Daoud Kuttab has something to say about the Palestinians. So far he is the only one. And like most of the Huffington Post bloggers, he has little to go on except or speculation about what President Obama will do. So speculate he does:
"America's first African American president who grew up in several parts of the world should be able to produce a foreign policy much closer to his heart and beliefs without having to worry about another election."
But before we get too much into that, first he has some fibs to tell about his fellow Palestinians:
"On the Palestinian side, the newly reelected U.S. president can count on a Palestinian leader who, similarly, is not shackled by the need to run for office again. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is determined not to run for office again, which leaves him free to say his mind...." 
He got one thing right: Abbas isn't "shackled," but that's because he doesn't run for office. He simply seizes power where he can and loses power where he can't, just like Hamas. Abbas' term ran out in 2009, and ever since then he has been rapidly losing the support of his people. Remember how the Palestine Papers nearly had him lynched in the streets? But okay, Mr. Kuttab, tell us exactly what Abbas has been saying.
"...as he did last week when he said on Israel TV's second channel what most Palestinians think. Abbas declared that Palestine is the territories occupied in 1967 and that most Palestinians (including himself) do not insist on returning to live in their homes in Israel."
First of all, notice the wording here. If "Palestine" is the territories occupied in 1967, then the Palestinians have no homes in Israel to return to! But let's not nitpick because he remains in the wrong: Most Palestinians continue to endorse Arafat's "phased plan." Two states now, one state later. And every poll ever indicates that they have no intention of compromising on the fictional "right of return." So what is happening here? Is Abbas lying, or is Kuttab not telling us the whole story?

As you are probably not surprised to hear, Kuttab is not telling us the whole story. The New York Times explained what happened after Abbas' fateful interview:
"The remark set off angry protests across the Gaza Strip, in which demonstrators set Mr. Abbas’s picture aflame. Palestinian rivals and commentators denounced him as a traitor, or worse....Ismail Haniya, called Mr. Abbas’s remarks “extremely dangerous,” and hundreds of Hamas’s supporters took to the streets in Gaza on Saturday evening, carrying banners reading “Abbas does not represent me,” and “Pioneer of concessions, it’s time to quit.” Some burned posters showing Mr. Abbas with Israel’s current and former prime ministers. In Jordan, the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, called Mr. Abbas’s statements “grave and unprecedented.” From London, Abdel Bari Atwan, the editor of Al Quds Al Arabi, wrote a column under the headline “Please Do Not Speak on Our Behalf.”
Way to go! So how did Abbas react to this?
"President Abbas himself beat a hasty retreat. In an interview with an Arabic newspaper published Sunday, he said he was talking only of his personal aspirations, not about giving up anyone’s rights, and called the refugees “a sacred matter” that could be resolved only as part of a larger agreement through negotiations." 
Great. So as usual, a Palestinian leader say something moderate in English, and his entire society turns against him for it, so he backs off. The Huffington Post only covers the statements themselves and not the fallout. How extremely typical. Let's get back to Kuttab:
"Even the head of the Islamic movement Hamas is not planning to run for reelection as the head of the political bureau. Khaled Mishaal, who left Syria and has publicly supported popular rather than military struggle as the way to liberate Palestine, also supports the two-state solution based on the 1967 borders."
So a guy you claim is moderate is not running for relection, and you say that's a good thing? Okay, it's not like anyone believes Mishaal is moderate anyway. And notice his source for the "borders" thing: Richard freaking Silverstein.

Anyway, most of the article is your usual hope for peace that manages even to be free of the usual policy of blaming Israel. I guess whitewashing the Palestinians was the most misleading he could be in one day. However there is one last issue he would like to talk about:
"For Jerusalem, also, there are many solutions suggested that can be focused on. The Clinton parameters called for Palestinian neighbourhoods as part of the Palestinian state and Jewish-populated areas that could be part of the state of Israel."
Yes, and we all know how the Palestinians reacted to the Clinton parameters didn't we? And what about that unshackled and moderate guy Mahmoud Abbas? What does he say about Jerusalem?
"I renew my commitment to continuing the road he [Arafat] began and for which he made a lot of sacrifices, until the Palestinian flag flies from the walls, minarets and churches of Jerusalem." (2005) 
And?
"We have frankly said, and always will say: If there is an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, we won’t agree to the presence of one Israeli in it." (25 December 2010) 
Yeah, that's a real voice of peace there. No that I think Israel ever willingly give up any part of Jerusalem either, of course. But Israel isn't the one "suffering" under "the occupation" are they?

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