June 17, 2024
Mahmoud Abbas blows his chance at achieving peace in the Middle East
Arafat is long gone, but his ghost lives on in Abbas.
Arafat is long gone, but his ghost lives on in Abbas.

JERUSALEM — The contrast is striking. President Trump, after threatening to obliterate North Korea, develops a “friendship” with Kim Jong-un, exchanges warm personal letters and makes history by stepping inside North Korea.

Meanwhile, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas refuses even to talk with the Trump administration and publicly curses the president, Jared Kushner and American Ambassador David Friedman.

Not surprisingly, the difference in consequences is also striking. While the United States and North Korea are moving closer to normalization and a possible deal on nuclear arms, the US is cutting aid to the Palestinians and taking major steps to strengthen Israel’s hand. The latest example is Trump’s decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights just months after he moved our embassy to Jerusalem.

The two situations are not exactly comparable but, unlike the shrewd North Korean dictator, Abbas is bungling any chance to gain advantages for the Palestinians and their own hoped-for sovereignty. In poker terms, he is playing a bad hand badly.

Interviews and conversations I had during nearly two weeks traveling in Israel and Jordan illustrate that the so-called peace process isn’t just stalled. It is dead and buried.