Last week, while the first batch of Palestinian terrorists was being released from Israeli jails, the Palestinian Authority was too busy condemning Israel to express satisfaction. This is because the Israeli government had approved the construction of hundreds of new houses in east Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.
The plans to build these new units were made public well before the start of the current pre-negotiation discussions, brokered by the United States. Furthermore, the additional housing is slated for areas that the Palestinian Authority ostensibly agreed would remain in Israel after a "two-state solution" was reached.
Nevertheless, the Palestinian Authority and its apologists, both in Israel and abroad, did what they always do when faced with "settlement expansion" -- they raised a stink, accusing Israel of provocation, at best, and violation of international law, at worst.
To keep the Palestinians appeased and reward them for deigning to talk to Israel, the U.S. agreed on Sunday to pay the Palestinian Authority $148 million. The deal was sealed between U.S. Consul General in Jerusalem Michael Ratney and Palestinian Authority (resigned and now reinstated) Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. It was enabled by U.S. President Barack Obama, who this month waived Congressional restrictions on financial aid to the Palestinians.
With the huge sum of cash safely in his proverbial pocket, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met with U.S. Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations Martin Indyk on Monday in Ramallah. There he fed Indyk the same old baloney that has been keeping the Palestinians in American clover to the tune of billions of dollars over the past 20 years: that the Palestinians are "committed to peace based on the two-state solution." Then he appealed to the U.S. envoy to pressure Israel "on the settlements."
Finally, Abbas asserted that American involvement in the "peace process" should be active, not merely supervisory. It is likely that Indyk -- who had served as Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs during the Clinton administration, in between two separate stints as U.S. ambassador to Israel -- took this as a compliment.
In June, 2009, I conducted an interview with Indyk for the Jerusalem Post, on the occasion of the publication of a Hebrew edition of his book, "Innocent Abroad: An intimate account of American peace diplomacy in the Middle East". At the time, Obama was five months into his first term as U.S. president; Benjamin Netanyahu -- just as recently -- had succeeded Ehud Olmert as Israeli prime minister; and Abbas was the same weak president of the Palestinian Authority, more worried about reconciling with Hamas than accepting any peace offering Israel had to offer.
There was one key difference between then and now, however. Hosni Mubarak was president of Egypt, and the only protests in the Middle East were those surrounding the reelection of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- to which the Obama administration responded by looking the other way until the protests were stomped out by the ayatollah-led regime.
During that same month, Netanyahu gave an address at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University in which he extended Israel's hand in peace to the Palestinians. Mubarak responded to this speech by saying that demanding of any Arab leader to recognize Israel as a Jewish state aborts the peace process.
I asked Indyk what he thought about that statement. This is an excerpt of his answer: "… [W]hile Israelis are trying to get a clear understanding of what exactly the Arabs are recognizing, the Arabs -- whose narrative enables them to accept Israel as a state in general -- do not accept the Zionist narrative. They therefore find it very hard to accept that kind of add-on to the requirement that they recognize Israel… I wish there was a way to put it aside for the time being, and deal with it over centuries. There are practical matters that need immediate attention, particularly the need to resolve the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. In this context, it's much more important to get the Palestinians to give up the right of return than to say that they accept Israel as a Jewish state…"
It is as predictable as it is disconcerting that this is the position of Washington's pick for Mideast peace-processor. He seems not to be aware that the Palestinians have not relinquished their true goal: wiping Israel off the map.
As was reported by Palestinian Media Watch, just a little over a week ago -- during the Id el-Fitr festivities -- the following message was delivered on the official Palestinian Authority radio station: "Greetings to all our listeners and happy holiday to you, our people in occupied Palestine, 1948 Palestine, the 1948 territories… Greetings to our people in Acre, Nazareth, Tiberias, Haifa and Jaffa… May your Palestinian identity be rooted in your hearts and minds. Allah willing, one day Palestine will be Palestine again!"
The Palestinian leadership doesn't even bother hiding its assertion that the entire state of Israel is and always has been occupied territory. Still, the West keeps kowtowing.
Heaven help us if Netanyahu -- who has already crossed a dangerous red line by releasing terrorists -- cedes even one millimeter of Jewish land under such circumstances.
Ruthie Blum is the author of "To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the 'Arab Spring.'"