The Palestinian Authority blows off John Kerry

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has accepted the resignation of his Prime Minister Salam Fayyad despite pleas from the U.S. and the EU that he retain Fayyad. Actually, I am wrong to say “despite.” According to Fatah officials, U.S. pressure on Abbas to keep Fayyad in power proved counterproductive.

Let us not probe the merits of Abbas’ decision to accept Fayyad’s resignation or explore the demerits of Fayyad’s tenure as prime minister. PA politics is a cesspool of corruption and ineptitude — always has been and probably always will be.

Let us instead give the PA credit for blowing off John Kerry. The U.S. has no business pressuring Abbas to appoint or retain this or that PA pol.

If only Israel were more willing to ignore American advice. But then, the Israelis sense there is a price to pay for blowing us off; the PA knows there isn’t.

The fact that Kerry was unable to affect Abbas’ decision regarding Fayyad (at least not in the direction he hoped to) demonstrates once again the lack of U.S. influence over the PA. If we cannot persuade Abbas on a personnel matter, we cannot expect to persuade him to make substantive concessions to Israel.

President Obama appears partially to have learned this lesson. Though he still may harbor some hope of moving the PA, he seems unwilling to devote his time to it. Instead, he has farmed the task out to Kerry, who was born to engage in this sort of fool’s errand.

It’s not difficult for me to imagine Obama getting a chuckle out of the resulting spectacle.


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