A benign Obama blunder, but a scary blunder nonetheless

Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post reminds us of how President Obama sabotaged the Middle East “peace talks.” He did so by insisting on a settlement freeze. For years, the PA had conducted talks with Israel in the absence of such a freeze. But when Obama came to power, suddenly the PA treated settlement construction as an obstacle to talks.
Why the switch? Because once Obama demanded a settlement construction freeze, Mahmoud Abbas, president of the PA, had to insist on it too. As Abbas himself put it:

When Obama came to power, he is the one who announced that settlement activity must be stopped. If America says it and Europe says it and the whole world says it, you want me not to say it?

This statement confirmed that, in Diehl’s words, “the settlement impasse originated not with Netanyahu or Abbas but with President Obama — who by insisting on an Israeli freeze has created a near-insuperable obstacle to the peace process he is trying to promote.”
This summer, Obama appeared at last to recognize the self-defeating nature of his position. Following a White House meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Obama didn’t mention settlements and began to urge Abbas to talk directly with Israel. But by September, he was back on the record calling for a halt to settlement construction, thus making it impossible for Abbas not to make the same demand.
Frankly, I’m glad Obama sabotaged the “peace” talks. In my view, they are, at best, a waste of time and, more likely, a threat to Israel’s security. Torpedoing the talks may prove to be Obama’s finest accomplishment as president.
But the staggering incompetence Obama has displayed in handling this issue should give all Americans pause. For if Obama could play this hand so poorly, what other serious blunders are in store?

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