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US President Barack Obama was blamed on Thursday, by columnist Saleh al-Kallab of the Saudi-owned daily ASHARQ AL AWSAT, for the current deadlock in the peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis. By setting high objectives for the Palestinians in their peace negotiations with the Israelis, Obama has put Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the top of a "high tree." Now Abbas cannot climb down from that high tree without help, specifically from the US administration, the columnist added. Kallab explained that when Obama first came to office earlier this year, he went to Cairo and delivered a landmark address promising to right what was wrong in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Obama also convinced Abbas that the Palestinians should not resume peace talks with the Israeli side until all forms of Jewish settlement-building stopped. But Obama failed to deliver on this promise due to high pressure by the pro-Israel lobby at home, better known as AIPAC, (American Israel Public Affairs Committee). This organization threatened Obama that it would make his presidential tenure very difficult if he put too much pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Therefore, Obama made a tactical retreat from his earlier promises, leaving Abbas stuck on that tree unable to climb down, which would show weakness in the eyes of his compatriots. If Abbas backs down on his call for a complete halt of settlement-building as a prerequisite for a resumption of peace talks with the Israelis, this would amount to "political suicide" for the Palestinian president, particularly against the backdrop of the current acute divisions splitting the Palestinian camp, Kallab added.

He recalled that Abbas came under enough fire with regards to the Goldstone report, which was prepared by a UN fact-finding committee and condemned Israel over its treatment of the Palestinian civilian population during the Gaza war, which ended in January. Abbas agreed to delay the UN's discussion of the report in the hope of avoiding antagonizing Israel and speeding up the process of the peace talks. But Hamas and Abbas' other political opponents favored an immediate discussion of the report irrespective of what happened. Now Abbas wants the US administration to intervene and set new objectives, making it easier for the Palestinian president to climb down from that high tree, Kallab said.
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Title Annotation:EDITORIAL REVIEW
Publication:The Daily Middle East Reporter (Beirut, Lebanon)
Date:Nov 5, 2009
Words:378
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