1. Having backed Islamists—even militarily in Libya—since the “Arab Spring” began a year ago, the U.S. and the major European powers should not be surprised to see the trend growing among the Palestinians as well. An openly Islamist PLO driving Palestinian crowds into violent clashes with Israel would test the limits of the Western blame-Israel mentality. The Europeans, with their large Muslim populations, dependence on Arab oil, and animus against Israel, would probably still “pass” the test. The Obama administration, facing elections, would have a harder time. But with Defense Secretary Panetta having bitterly blamed Israel just a few weeks ago for not getting along better with Islamist neighbors like Turkey and Egypt, it remains to be seen.
2. The Palestinian claim that only Israeli “settlement construction,” and refusal to precommit to the death-trap 1967 borders, prevents serious negotiations is still parroted by Western media and taken seriously by Western governments. By now this is nothing short of shameful. Israel, of course, negotiated peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, and a series of agreements with the Palestinians, without ceasing settlement construction or making such a suicidal commitment. The Palestinians, however, are still coasting on the Obama administration’s initial calls on Israel to stop all “settlement,” including in East Jerusalem and including for “natural growth,” and Obama’s demand last May that Israel return to those indefensible lines. It makes it easier for the Palestinian Authority to keep presenting itself as the aggrieved, rejected, peace-seeking party even as it forges deals with blatantly genocidal Hamas.
3. If the Fatah-Hamas (and Islamic Jihad) reconciliation goes through, it will be partly because the gap between them was never really so wide. Not only the Islamist groups but also Fatah perpetrated much of the terror of the Second Intifada. By the time Abbas became Palestinian Authority president in 2004, Israel was on the way to defeating the terror campaign. Abbas, therefore, tried different tacks—first negotiating with the weak and desperate, “we are tired of winning” prime minister Ehud Olmert, and, when finding that even he had red lines, trying a unilateral push for statehood at the UN. With that—for now—rebuffed, and with the “Arab Spring” roiling around him, it is not so hard for Abbas to turn to Hamas—even if it means eventually being swallowed up by it.
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