Obama betting his diplomatic legacy on Mideast magic

A Palestinian youth throws a stone towards Israeli soldiers as he jumps over burning tires during clashes that followed a rally to support President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Hebron March 17, 2014

The morning after occupied Crimea “voted” to become part of Russia, President Obama was busy trying to appease Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas into continuing to negotiate peace.

Oh, Obama also announced new sanctions against Russia, a nation that the administration had seen as a key partner on other US priorities, from ending the Syrian war to halting Iran’s march to nuclear capabilities.

But the big show of the day involved Abbas, who came to the White House armed with new demands. Betting is he’ll get most of them.

That’s because the United States really really wants to negotiate the creation of a Palestinian state — and Abbas, well, not so much…

Related: Palestine considers backing full boycott of Israel if talks fail.  Excerpts:

Nabil Shaath, head of international relations of the West Bank’s ruling Fatah movement, said the Palestinians were considering “going the South African way” and supporting a full boycott of Israel, in addition resuming their push for recognition in international bodies, including the International Criminal Court…

He said that the Palestinians did not agree with what he described as Israeli proposals endorsed by the US, on issues relating to the status of Jerusalem, refugees, borders and an Israeli demand for recognition of the country as a Jewish state.

“The Americans have not played a real honest broker role”, Mr Shaath said, contrasting what he described as the Obama administration’s willingness to support Israeli negotiating demands in the talks with tougher stands taken by former US presidents George Bush Sr and Bill Clinton in past peace rounds. “They are much closer to what they think would go for the Israelis.”
Mr Shaath said that the Palestinians would seek an international forum for negotiations next time, as seen in the conflicts in Iran and Syria, with the US involved alongside the Europeans and other countries including Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

The remarks are the latest of several signs from Palestinian and Israeli officials that they are positioning themselves for the talks’ failure.