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Palestinians Have Multiple Complaints With Obama Speeches on Middle East

Despite President Obama doubling down on the relative non-event of his comments on using the 1967 borders, with mutually agreed swaps of land, as a starting point for negotiations on the Arab-Israeli conflict, nobody has really noticed that the Palestinians are upset by Obama’s comments as well:

Addressing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Sunday, Obama reiterated his request that the Palestinians drop their plans to appeal for recognition at the United Nations this fall, and — as he did in another Mideast speech Thursday — raised tough questions about an emerging Palestinian unity government that is to include the Hamas militant group.

Most difficult for Palestinians is Obama’s call to recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland, essentially requiring the Palestinians to accept that most refugees will be denied the “right of return” to what is now Israel.

Perhaps for this reason, the Palestinians have remained largely quiet about the substance of Obama’s speeches, seemingly content to watch Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu clash with the U.S. administration over Israel’s future borders.

Herman Cain may not understand the right of return, but it’s a key issue for many Palestinians, and the President basically shut down that possibility with his comments. It was again something implied but never said publicly. Palestinians are concerned that the formulation of a “Jewish state” could encourage nationalist types to expel the 1.5 million Arabs currently living in Israel.

The Palestinians have a series of grievances with the speeches, however, including the dismissal of the United Nations statehood process, which is a bigger deal in that it’s really Plan A, B and C for the leadership right now.

I don’t think peace talks are breaking out anytime soon, so the Kremlinology with the phrasings of the President is something of a side point. The point I want to make here is that US media is so focused on the Israeli side of this conflict that their disagreements, however spurious, are a big deal, while the Palestinian complaints get shorter shrift. It’s nearly impossible to figure out the truth under such a standard.

And in addition, if anyone in the US contradicts the Israeli leadership line (separate from the opinion of rank and file Israelis, who actually support the 1967 lines with mutual swaps as a basis for negotiations), they get this kind of treatment.

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David Dayen

David Dayen