By Dr. Mitchell Bard
Increasingly, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas appears to be the negotiator of choice for the West simply because officials see no option. Israelis are increasingly beginning to question this default option after three years of Abbas refusing to enter negotiations with Israel and a lifetime of rejectionism.
New evidence that Abbas is the impediment to peace continues to mount. In September 2011, Abbas defied the United States and many other nations by submitting an application for recognition to the UN Security Council.
A month later, Abbas again ignored the objections of the United States and other Western powers and submitted an application to UNESCO seeking recognition of Palestine. While winning the vote, the White House condemned the decision as "regrettable" and "premature," and said it undermines the effort to bring about peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly invited Abbas to talks without preconditions and Abbas has refused. In fact, Abbas came out of his first meeting with President Obama saying he hoped the Obama Administration would force Netanyahu out of office. Abbas added that he was willing to wait years until that happened.
Even after Israel placed a ten-month moratorium on settlement construction in the West Bank in an effort to entice the Palestinians into peace talks, Abbas refused to sit with the Israeli leaders until just two weeks before the freeze was set to expire, and after one meeting, never returned to the talks.
In October 2011, the Quartet called for a renewal of talks and Abbas ignored the group that includes the UN, Russia, the United States and the European Union.
A new memoir by former U.S. National Security Adviser and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has provided additional damning evidence of Abbas's rejection of peace. In 2008, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered to withdraw from approximately 94 percent of the West Bank, with an additional 1.5 percent of the territory used to create a passage to Gaza and the remaining 4.5 percent to be "swapped" so that Israel could annex its major settlement blocs.
Olmert also proposed a division of Jerusalem that would have allowed the Palestinians to establish their capital in the predominantly Arab part of the city. Rice called the proposal "amazing" and warned the Prime Minister that "Yitzhak Rabin had been killed for offering far less."
Abbas refused to consummate the deal. As Haaretz noted, "aficionados of the Palestinians again found a million and one reasons why the peace-loving Palestinian leader had refused the offer."
While rejecting peace Abbas also glorifies terrorists. Most recently, he praised five of the terrorists released in the deal to free Israeli hostage Gilad Shalit (who was kidnapped on Abbas's watch). The killers, along with other former prisoners, were awarded grants by Abbas as a "presidential token of honor."
Abbas has found excuses not to negotiate a deal with three different Israeli prime ministers and there is no reason to expect that a change in Israeli leadership would make him any less intransigent.
After spending two years trying to satisfy Palestinian demands and encourage them to return to the negotiating table, President Obama has reportedly grown so disenchanted with Abbas that he has not spoken to him in months.
Columnist Yoel Marcus may have put it best when he described Abbas as "an adamant rejectionist" who comes "across as a nicely compelling non-partner."
Abbas: Full U.N. membership is sole focus - UPI
Rice reveals concessions in 2008 peace talks - Jerusalem Post
Abbas Praises ‘Holy’ Terrorists - Arutz Sheva
As He Pursues His U.N. Agenda, Has Abbas Stopped Caring About Anyone But Himself? - FOX News
Abbas says he’ll never recognize a Jewish state - JTA