How they see us: Is Middle East peace a U.S. delusion?

Both Israelis and Palestinians voice doubt that a solution to the region's problems is at hand. 

Given President Obama’s pro-Palestinian bias, we can’t expect much from the Mideast peace talks launched last week, said Moshe Dann in Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth. “No matter what Arab terrorists do,” Obama supports the Palestinian Authority. When Palestinian terrorists murdered four Israelis last week, Obama viewed the attack as an attempt to undermine the talks. But Palestinians attack Israelis week in and week out, talks or no talks. “Framing this attack as politically motivated distorts the nature and meaning of Arab terrorism against Jews.” It’s about hatred and anti-Semitism, not politics. But Obama refuses to see that. With him, the Palestinian Authority “can get away with murder—and does.”

Obama actually believes that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas wants peace, said The Jerusalem Post in an editorial. Abbas may be “far better intentioned than his malevolent predecessor, Yasser Arafat,” but his Fatah faction still routinely demonizes Israel and opposes its very existence. Under his rule, Palestinian terrorists are given state honors. The Ramallah street that houses the Palestinian Authority’s new presidential compound, for example, was named for Palestinian “arch-terrorist” Yihye Ayash, the bomb expert who devoted himself to sabotaging the Oslo peace process. The “glorification of ‘heroic’ terrorists, ‘martyred’ in the cause of murdering Israelis,” is a state project in Gaza and the West Bank alike. Until Abbas takes real steps toward changing that poisonous climate, he can’t be considered a peace partner.

And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can? asked Subhi Zu’aytir in Saudi Arabia’s Al-Watan. To listen to Bibi’s fine words in Washington, you’d think he was “a preacher who spent a considerable part of his life working with international organizations to achieve world peace.” Instead, he’s a conservative hard-liner who invaded Lebanon and Gaza and insists on expanding Jewish settlements into Palestinian territory in violation of international law. When Obama demands that Israel stop building settlements, Netanyahu simply ignores him—and then an embarrassed Obama looks the other way. For peace talks to succeed, we would need “a moderate Israeli government with a genuine desire for peace,” as well as “an American administration ready to put pressure on Israel.” Right now we have neither.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

For that reason, Obama is wasting his time, said Jamal Elshayyal in Qatar’s He thinks he can score points with the Palestinians by conceding that many Arabs were “skeptical” of yet another round of peace talks. But skepticism is not what afflicts Palestinians. “Decades of illegal occupation does not breed skepticism—distrust maybe, disillusionment possibly, resentment probably, resistance most definitely.” Palestinians are angry, and justifiably so. No amount of summitry will calm them. “What is needed is tangible changes on the ground,” including food, medicine, jobs, and an end to Israel’s humiliating checkpoints. Failing that, this round of peace talks will sputter like all the others. “Please excuse my skepticism.”

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.