Sunday, March 16, 2014

Abbas to DC to Meet Obama

By Micah Halpern
I'm Predicting:
On Monday US President Obama will meet with Palestinian President Abbas.

The agenda is clear. Obama wants to inject a sense of hope into a negotiation process that has ground to a halt and seems totally hopeless.

Obama has charisma and charm and he can certainly make Abbas feel good about himself which is part of the White House's objective.

But Abbas is not happy with the peace plan as it now stands - the stakes are too high and his legacy is at stake.

A few days ago, in Ramallah, Abbas said:: "I am 79 years old and am not ready to end my life with treason." He sees the US suggested agreement as exactly that - a form of treason.

Now, we have not seen the agreement. And actually, on Friday, Abbas said that he has not seen an agreement either. I can only guess what is in the agreement - and that is not where the problem lies.

The problem is recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.

Abbas is so upset by the process conducted by the US that he is being pressured by his advisers and others to just declare independence. He feels he would get UN support and his advisers are shouting at him not to extend the negotiation deadline beyond April.

That explains why the leader of the Palestinian Authority went to Russia at the end of January. He admitted his frustration to Moscow and they are probably coming up with an alternative plan.

I would predict that when Abbas walks out of the Oval Office he will be more hopeful than when he walks in. Obama will succeed in persuading Abbas to give the peace talks more of a chance. Obama will ask for another year, Abbas will probably concede to three to six more months of negotiations. 

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