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How About a Proximity Speech?

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas — currently in the 64th month of his 48-month term; unable since 2007 to set foot in half his putative state; rejecting in 2008 an offer of a state from the most pliant prime minister in Israeli history; unwilling throughout 2009 to consider negotiations without a pre-negotiation concession he knew no Israeli government could accept; currently considering a proposal for “proximity talks” (better described as nearby non-talks) to obviate the need to talk to Israelis — will be coming to the White House. He will probably get a better reception than Gordon Brown, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Dalai Lama.

Yesterday Abbas gave a speech that undoubtedly previews the message he will bring:

“Mr. President (Barack Obama) and members of the American administration, since you believe in this (an independent Palestinian state), it is your duty to take steps toward a solution and to impose this solution,” Abbas said in a speech. …

“We’ve asked them (the Obama administration) more than once: ‘Impose a solution’,” Abbas said.

Jerusalem Post editor in chief David Horovitz has a more modest suggestion, writing that Abbas should give a speech comparable to the “two-state” address Netanyahu made last year — one that would indicate a Palestinian acceptance of a Jewish state:

Let Abbas speak in Arabic, to his own people — with his leadership colleagues on hand to publicly support and applaud him — and let him tell them that the Jews, too, have historic rights to Palestine. … Let him recall that the international community, in partitioning British mandatory Palestine, provided for a Jewish and an Arab entity side by side – that, in other words,  the provision for revived Jewish sovereignty was integral to the right the Palestinians seek to realize for their own historically unprecedented independence. And let him declare, therefore, that he recognizes that the demand for a “right of return” for millions of Palestinians to what is now Israel is a dream that must be abandoned, for the Jewish nation has the right to that small sliver of sovereign land of its own.

Memo to the Obama administration: before trying to impose a peace plan, try imposing that. Call it a confidence-building gesture.


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