Washington’s contention is that Abbas wants a deal, that he is ready to make the compromises necessary to forge one, and that Israel’s vital interests mandate that it does all that it possibly can to ensure the deal is done. Ironically, for an administration so starkly hostile to most everything it inherited from the Bush administration, one of the very few channels of continuity is the insistent belief that an accord with the Palestinian Authority beckons.
For the Israeli leadership – encompassing not just Netanyahu but Defense Minister Ehud Barak as well – this assessment is unfathomable.
In Washington’s eyes, Abbas can be forgiven for spurning Olmert’s “take it all” offer because the outgoing prime minister was a lame duck, and who knew whether a successor Israeli government would honor any hurriedly signed principles of an accord? In the contrary view of the now-very-tight Netanyahu-Barak partnership, an Abbas who truly wanted a deal would have been begging for the opportunity to put his name alongside Olmert’s, desperate to sign on to the unprecedented territorial offer,