The president’s high-profile interview with Jeffrey Goldberg will make it extremely hard for the administration to blame the Palestinians for the expected failure of Kerry’s peace initiative.
Obama’s interview with the Bloomberg news agency on Sunday, in which he basically blamed Netanyahu and exonerated Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas for the intractability of the occupation, is a very important event, and very good news. With Netanyahu and Abbas jockeying to avoid the blame for the likely impending failure of Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace initiative, the Obama interview with Jeffrey Goldberg will make it very hard for the administration to do Israel’s bidding, as is its habit, by pointing the finger at the Palestinians if and when the talks, whose allotted time runs out on April 29, run aground.
At stake in the blame game is momentum: if Washington finds against the Palestinians, Abbas’ plans to take Israel to The Hague would stall, as would the “mainstreaming” of the BDS movement. If Washington finds against Israel, the effect would be the opposite. And if Washington blames neither side, then the rest of the world will be left to decide for itself, and its decision will likely be for the Palestinians. In the probable event of the talks failing, Israel’s only hope of avoiding an upsurge of world opposition – which is what Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Finance Minister Yair Lapid, along with top Israeli business people, friendly foreign diplomats, Kerry and now Obama are trying to warn Israel against – is if Washington clears Netanyahu of responsibility and turns its wrath on Abbas.
But how can Washington do that after what Obama just said in that interview:
I think nobody would dispute that whatever disagreements you may have with him, he has proven himself to be somebody who has been committed to nonviolence and diplomatic efforts to resolve this issue.
I believe that President Abbas is sincere about his willingness to recognize Israel and its right to exist, to recognize Israel’s legitimate security needs, to shun violence, to resolve these issues in a diplomatic fashion that meets the concerns of the people...