ZOA Criticizes Obama For Falsely Stating Israel Made No “Bold Gestures” & Doesn’t Want To Negotiate – Ignoring Jewish Construction Freeze & Israel Begging For Talks
January 25, 2010

Says nothing of PA incitement & no PA concessions


The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has criticized President Barack Obama for falsely stating in an interview that Israel has failed to make “bold gestures” for peace and has not been willing to engage in meaningful negotiations with the Palestinians. In fact, Israel has frozen Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria for 10 months and repeatedly stated it is ready to talk with Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (PA). In contrast, President Obama conceded that Abbas’ PA has not made any concessions of its own but explained this away by reference to Abbas “having Hamas looking over his shoulder” and without explaining why he therefore supports the creation of a Palestinian state under current conditions when Hamas is by his own admission a major influence on the PA.


In an interview with TIME magazine, President Obama, reflecting back on his first year in office, said:


“Both sides — the Israelis and the Palestinians — have found that the political environment, the nature of their coalitions or the divisions within their societies, were such that it was very hard for them to start engaging in a meaningful conversationFrom [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas’ perspective, he’s got Hamas looking over his shoulder and, I think, an environment generally within the Arab world that feels impatient with any process. And on the Israeli front — although the Israelis, I think, after a lot of time showed a willingness to make some modifications in their policies, they still found it very hard to move with any bold gestures (Joe Klein, ‘Q&A: Obama on His First Year in Office,’ TIME, January 21, 2010).


ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We are disappointed and critical of President Obama’s perspective, which carries with it worrying implications for the way he intends to continue to conduct U.S. policy towards the Arab war on Israel.


“First, President Obama failed to acknowledge that Israel has made a recent major, unprecedented concession to Abbas and the PA by freezing for 10 months all Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria and that Israel did this despite receiving nothing in return from Abbas’ PA. Even President Obama acknowledges that Abbas has refused to make any concessions. Not to mention that Israel has made bold, unreciprocated concessions throughout the Oslo period until today, including ceding all of Gaza and almost half of Judea and Samaria to Palestinian control, as well as handing over assets, funds and even arms to the PA, only to get continuing rejection and violence.


“Second, the Netanyahu government has repeatedly offered to restart negotiations at any time with Abbas’ PA, without preconditions. It is therefore incorrect, absurd and outrageous to say, as President Obama did, that Israel is unwilling to engage in a ‘meaningful conversation’ with the PA. This statement only applies to Abbas and the PA, not to Israel. Mahmud Abbas has publicly and repeatedly proclaimed that he won’t come to the negotiating table and engage in meaningful conversation under present circumstances.


“Third, by explaining away the admitted absence of any Palestinian concessions by reference to Abbas having to contend with ‘having Hamas looking over his shoulder,’ President Obama gave Abbas and the PA a free pass for their refusal to negotiate with Israel and for failing to make any concessions whatsoever, let alone having failed over 16 years to fulfill their existing signed obligations under the Oslo agreements to arrest terrorists, outlaw terrorist groups and end the incitement to hatred and violence against Jews and Israel within the PA that feeds terror and rejection of Israel. It may be asked: why does President Obama support creating a Palestinian state when he himself suggests that Hamas is a major influence on Abbas and the PA and that it would therefore be a major, pro-terror, anti-peace force within any Palestinian state that was created under existing conditions?


“Fourth, in this context, it is noteworthy that in his interview, President Obama never once referred to Palestinian incitement, the issue which even he has at times acknowledged to be very important. His omission is all the more worrying in view of the fact that in recent days the Israeli government wrote to President Obama specifically raising numerous, recent cases of obscene glorification of terrorists and terrorism by Mahmoud Abbas and the PA. His omission of this key problem that stymies all chance of peace is therefore notable and deeply troubling. Apparently, President Obama does not believe in putting Palestinian incitement on the agenda.


“Fifth, President Obama nowhere acknowledged in this interview the elephant in the room – that his own Administration’s heavy-handed and public efforts to pressure Israel to adopt the racist and discriminatory policy of freezing all Jewish construction in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem is responsible for the lack of diplomatic motion because it resulted only in the PA seizing on this as a pretext for refusing to negotiate with Israel until this occurs. It would be hard it imagine a U.S. approach more unbalanced, mistaken and ill-conceived.


“Sixth, President Obama’s said that Abbas has to deal with ‘an environment generally within the Arab world that feels impatient with any process’ – what does this mean? Is he saying that Arab states want no peace negotiations and wants to continue war? Or does he mean that they want Israel to make all the concession they seek without negotiations?


“This is a deeply flawed and hostile perspective on Israel and the war being waged on it by Palestinians and other Arabs. We strongly urge President Obama to clarify his remarks and publicly correct his inaccurate statements that wrongly create negative sentiments towards Israel.”


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