Charles Krauthammer argues that President Obama, in his press conference earlier today with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, made “one of the most important statements” ever by an American president about Arab-Israeli peace by acknowledging that Israeli settlements are an ancillary issue to a peace between the two parties based on security.
“Everybody understands that when the line is drawn between the territories, the Israeli settlements on the Palestinian side will all be evacuated,” Krauthammer said. “So he is saying the problem will be solved if there is a peace agreement, because as in Gaza, all the settlements will be removed . . . this is a way to truly undercut the Palestinian argument, and this is what Abbas has been now saying for all of Obama’s first term: ‘I cannot negotiate unless there is a freeze in settlements.’ Obama understands today as he did not at the beginning of his term that that is entirely a ruse. He wants negotiations so he is saying to the Palestinians, ‘The ball is in your court. You can start right now and you should.’ That is a major change in positions.”