The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that it is in possession of details of a secret memo from US President Barack Obama to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas threatening to drop support for a Palestinian state if the latter does not agree to direct peace talks with Israel.
The memo was delivered to Abbas by US Middle East envoy George Mitchell. The AP acquired a copy of a Palestinian document referring to the American memo.
It revealed that the Obama Administration is aware that Abbas is under heavy pressure from the Arab world to not conduct direct negotiations with Israel, and that doing so would end his political career. Nevertheless, the memo warned Abbas “to accept direct talks now if he wants President Obama’s help in facilitating statehood.”
Obama and Mitchell both conveyed to Abbas that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu isn’t going anywhere, and enjoys strong political support in Israel. Therefore, waiting for a more malleable Israeli prime minister will set back Obama’s Middle East peace agenda too far.
The Palestinian document noted that Abbas and his aides are in favor of rejecting the American ultimatum. They are likely confident that Obama will not follow through on his threats and risk forfeiting the diplomatic achievement of overseeing a Middle East peace agreement. Traditionally, American presidents have eventually caved in the face of Palestinian intransigence and instead refocused their pressure on Israel.