The settlement moratorium ended today. For now, Bibi didn’t give away something for nothing. And for now, Abbas didn’t walk out. It seems that giving the Palestinians precisely what they want isn’t necessarily essential to Israel’s security. But for the sake of argument, let’s say Abbas stays in the room. What then? Is he ready to recognize the Jewish state as the Jewish state? We’ve seen no sign of it. And that is something that can’t be finessed.
It is interesting that the New York Times saw Bibi’s move in terms of its impact on Obama. (“For President Obama, who had publicly called on Israel to extend the freeze, the Israeli decision was another setback in what has been a tortuous effort to help resolve one of the world’s most intractable conflicts.”) And in a way, that is right. Bibi rebuffed Obama’s public pleas. Obama’s been trying to push a settlement freeze on Bibi from day one, and he’s having no luck. Still. Maybe Bibi has concluded there really is nothing to gain and much to lose from agreeing to the requests of Obama and George Mitchell.
For now, Abbas is stalling. (“Speaking in Paris during an official visit to France on Monday, Mr. Abbas said there would be no ‘quick decision’ on whether to withdraw from the peace talks, and he would consult with Arab leaders next Monday on how to proceed, according to The Associated Press. The announcement appeared designed to give American mediators time to continue diplomacy, but it remained unclear how Arab leaders would react.”) His bluff has been called. And he’s going to figure out some other gambit for getting out of doing what is required of him.