Published: July 21, 2010 

Khaled Abu Toameh, to my mind the best Arab journalist working in Israel and the Palestinian territories, reports in today’s Jerusalem Post that “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has told his Fatah movement he wants a more specific US commitment on the borders of a future Palestinian state before agreeing to direct talks with Israel.

“Abbas says he received assurances from US President Barack Obama, but that they weren’t clear ‘enough. ,” reports Abu Toameh ” He says he expects enormous pressure, but that he will not go ‘blindly’ into negotiations. “

In other words, until Mahmoud Abbas knows the specific outcome of peace negotiations with Israel, he won’t even begin to negotiate the terms directly with Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu. Even in Arabic that’s known as “hutzpa“.

All of which resurrects the question many of us have been asking for decades: if the Palestinians are truly ready to divide Palestine into two peace abiding states – one Arab and one Jewish -, why have they turned down every offer that’s ever been made to them to do just that – even the one proferred in 2007 at a U.S.-sponsored peace conference in Annapolis by then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for a Palestinian Arab state in 97 percent of the West Bank and the entire Gaza Strip. Abbas also used the occasion, and has used several since then, to categorically dismiss the request to recognize Israel as a Jewish state alongside the would-be Palestinian state, insisting instead on full implementation of the “right of return” of Palestinian “refugees” and their millions of on the global dole descendants..

The answer, I fear, is that the Palestinians really don’t want that peaceful solution and will continue to stall for time until the Arab fantasy day when the Jewish state vanishes – their ultimate goal.

One of the best histories of this steady blockage procedure comes from Mideast historian Efraim Karsh. Editor of the Middle East Quarterly and author most recently of “Palestine Betrayed” (Yale), Karsh is professor of Middle East and Mediterranean Studies at King’s College, University of London.

In a biting new article in the Jewish Ideas Daily and reprinted by the Middle East Quarterly, Karsh carefully traces the history of Palestinian avoidance of a Mideast peace solution that will result in two states for two peoples. Indeed, as he pointedly asks, “… is there in fact a fundamental distinction between Hamas and Fatah when it comes to a two-state solution? Neither faction formally accepts Israel’s right to exist; both are formally committed to its eventual destruction. Moreover, for all the admittedly sharp differences between Arafat and his successor Abbas both in personality and in political style, the two are warp and woof of the same dogmatic PLO fabric.”

Anyone interested in the truth about the Mideast crisis should read Karsh’s article in full: