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Sunday, October 09, 2011

Why one-sided pressure has not worked

They may love Obama in 'Palestine' but the last two years of pressure on Israel have not brought peace any closer. Evelyn Gordon explains why.
In reality, the last two years are an object lesson in why such one-sided pressure doesn’t work. For 16 years, negotiations progressed because of a balance of pressure: America was allied with Israel and Europe with the PA, but neither Israel nor the PA could afford to alienate the other’s chief ally, as America and Europe are simultaneously Israel’s two largest trading partners and the PA’s two largest donors.

But Obama’s decision to put “daylight” between Washington and Jerusalem – for instance, by demanding a settlement freeze, which had never previously been a condition for negotiations – disrupted this balance, because Europe didn’t step into the breach: It continued pressuring Israel exclusively. With all the pressure now on Israel, Abbas, as he told the Washington Post’s Jackson Diehl two years ago, thought he could just sit back and wait for Israel to capitulate – and then, when that didn’t happen, he blamed Obama for not providing “a ladder to climb down from the high tree.”

But it seems Europe still hasn’t learned. Rather than, say, threatening to cut its generous funding to the PA if Abbas doesn’t resume talks, it is once again demanding Israel pay the price for Abbas’s intransigence. And as long as Abbas can keep extracting more concessions just by saying “no,” why on earth shouldn’t he keep saying it?
My fear is what happens if God forbid there is a second Obama administration. Obama continues to pressure Israel as do the Europeans. Israelis get frustrated (or worse) at their poor relations with the US, call elections, and elect someone other than Netanyahu Prime Minister. Israel makes the ultimate concession without the 'Palestinians' ever coming to the table.

What could go wrong?

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