Particularly because of its timing, the statement left most Israelis rubbing their eyes.
Transportation Minister Israel Katz of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party called Obama’s words “one of the worst statements by an American president in history. Israel’s existence does not depend on anything, especially not the Palestinians….”
Imagine carving out about one-fourth of the U.S. and making it a separate country bordering Washington and a few miles from New York. This country is populated by people who systematically teach their children that the United States has no right to exist and must be destroyed, and name schools, public squares, and summer camps after terrorists who have inflicted mass-casualty attacks on the U.S.
No one in his right mind would call that a way to ensure America’s security.
There are, though, more specific reasons to marvel at (while not being surprised by) Obama’s words.
Over the past week, two Israeli soldiers have been murdered by Palestinian terror. On Friday 20-year-old Tomer Hazan was killed by a Palestinian coworker who lured him to his village near Qalqilya in the West Bank. On Sunday 20-year-old Gavriel Kovi was killed by a Palestinian sniper while guarding civilians in the West Bank town of Hebron.
In the case of Tomer Hazan’s murder, the coworker, Nidal Amar, tried to hide his body in a bid to use it as ransom for Amar’s brother, jailed in Israel on terror charges. Amar was quickly apprehended.
In the case of Gavriel Kovi’s murder, the killer has not yet been found.
No condemnation of these acts was forthcoming from any Palestinian Authority official, including President Mahmoud Abbas—this at a time when Israel is engaged in yet another round of “peace talks” with the PA that Secretary of State John Kerry heavily pressured both sides to launch.
Finally on Monday night, when pressed to do so in a meeting with Jewish leaders in New York, Abbas “condemned” the killings—while adding that he “expected Israel to condemn the deaths of four young Palestinians at the hands of the IDF in recent weeks.”
The Times of Israel notes that
It was not clear to what Abbas was referring, but on Sept. 17, Israeli forces, believing their lives to be in danger, killed one man and wounded at least one during a raid on a refugee camp near Jerusalem to arrest a fugitive, the IDF said.That is, a “condemnation” that equated outright acts of murder with acts of self-defense by security forces, that was made only in English to a small audience in New York, and that is not really a condemnation at all.
But it is not only that such phenomena—murders of Israelis and wall-to-wall Palestinian refusal to condemn them—are occurring during “peace talks.” Khaled Abut Toameh reports that—as many feared would happen—the talks are fomenting violence rather than allaying it, and the attitude toward the murders goes well beyond passivity:
A connection seems to exist between the resumption of the peace talks…and the recent upsurge in violence in the West Bank, which reached its peak with the killing of two Israeli soldiers this week….That’s Fatah, essentially the government of the West Bank, the movement Abbas has belonged to for half a century and now leads, and Israel’s “peace partner.”
Earlier this week, representatives of several Palestinian groups met in Ramallah and launched a public campaign to stop the negotiations and wage an intifada against Israel.
That the meeting was held a few hundred meters away from Abbas’s headquarters is significant. It shows that opposition to the peace talks is not only coming from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, but also from the largely secular and relatively moderate city of Ramallah….
Fatah’s armed wing, Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, rushed to claim responsibility for the killing of the two IDF soldiers in Qalqilya and Hebron.
After the killing of the soldier in Hebron by a sniper, Fatah published a photo of one of its sharpshooters with the caption, “When Fatah says, it does. When Fatah promises, it fulfills.”
For all these reasons Obama’s statement that Israel’s security “depends upon” creating a Palestinian state goes beyond the usual boilerplate and carried a special sting.
Outlining his broader vision, Obama said:
In the near term, America’s diplomatic efforts will focus on two particular issues: Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. While these issues are not the cause of all the region’s problems, they have been a major source of instability for far too long, and resolving them can help serve as a foundation for a broader peace.Again, beyond boilerplate, implicitly equating the imminent attainment of an industrial-scale nuclear-weapons capacity by a murderous anti-Western regime with the fact that 1.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank do not have—unlike in Gaza—a full-fledged sovereign state that would, undoubtedly, be another great gift to Israel and humanity.
Netanyahu will be meeting with Obama on Monday before addressing the UN on Tuesday. One can conjecture that—unless the security situation worsens—Netanyahu will keep playing along with the Palestinian charade while trying to get Obama focused and realistic on Iran.