We have sympathy for Mr. Abbas, the moderate-but-weak leader of the Fatah party [who displayed] depressing passivity...in an interview with The Washington Post (*) before his White House meeting.
Mr. Abbas suggested that his only role in the American-led peace initiative is to wait — for Hamas to join in a unity government, for Mr. Netanyahu to act. He said he can’t ask Arab states to have anything to do with Israel, “until Israel agrees to freeze settlements and recognize the two-state solution,” the columnist Jackson Diehl quoted him as saying. “Until then, we can’t talk to anyone,” he said.
...He needs to do a lot more. He must keep improving those forces. He must redouble efforts to halt the constant spewing of hatred against Israel in schools, mosques and media. He must work harder to weed out corruption. Unless Mr. Abbas’s government does more to improve the lives of Palestinians it will surely lose again to Hamas in elections scheduled for January.
The refusal of Israel’s new prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to commit to a two-state solution or halt settlement activity is feeding militancy and strengthening Mr. Abbas’s Hamas rivals.
Ah, it's alll our fault. What was the reason the Fatah was founded in 1964? Before "settlement activity", and "occupation"?
Abbas insisted that his only role was to wait. He will wait for Hamas to capitulate to his demand that any Palestinian unity government recognize Israel and swear off violence. And he will wait for the Obama administration to force a recalcitrant Netanyahu to freeze Israeli settlement construction and publicly accept the two-state formula.
Until Israel meets his demands, the Palestinian president says, he will refuse to begin negotiations. He won't even agree to help Obama's envoy, George J. Mitchell, persuade Arab states to take small confidence-building measures. "We can't talk to the Arabs until Israel agrees to freeze settlements and recognize the two-state solution," he insisted in an interview. "Until then we can't talk to anyone."
For veterans of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Abbas's bargaining position will be bone-wearyingly familiar...Obama...has revived a long-dormant Palestinian fantasy: that the United States will simply force Israel to make critical concessions, whether or not its democratic government agrees, while Arabs passively watch and applaud...But Palestinians remain a long way from swallowing reality as well. Setting aside Hamas and its insistence that Israel must be liquidated...
In our meeting Wednesday, Abbas acknowledged that Olmert had shown him a map proposing a Palestinian state on 97 percent of the West Bank -- though he complained that the Israeli leader refused to give him a copy of the plan. He confirmed that Olmert "accepted the principle" of the "right of return" of Palestinian refugees -- something no previous Israeli prime minister had done -- and offered to resettle thousands in Israel. In all, Olmert's peace offer was more generous to the Palestinians than either that of Bush or Bill Clinton...Abbas turned it down. "The gaps were wide," he said...Abbas rejects the notion that he should make any comparable concession -- such as recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, which would imply renunciation of any large-scale resettlement of refugees.
Instead, he says, he will remain passive. "I will wait for Hamas to accept international commitments. I will wait for Israel to freeze settlements," he said. "Until then, in the West Bank we have a good reality . . . the people are living a normal life." In the Obama administration, so far, it's easy being Palestinian.