I got frustrated over at the Windy by the way few people in the media seem to be considering that Obama’s pressure on the Palestinian leadership to suppress the Goldstone report into Israeli and Hamas war crimes in Gaza has destabilized Palestinian politics in a manner beneficial to extremism. You’d have to basically say in public that it would have been preferable to allow the Palestinians to have moved forward in the U.N. Human Rights Council with a vote on Goldstone than, say, unmooring Mahmoud Abbas from his base of support so that he won’t run for reelection, and this appears to be a bitter pill for the U.S. to swallow.
Nadia Hijab is more blunt:
“From now on, Palestinian leaders will be judged by the stand they took on the Goldstone Report — anyone who tried to bury it, or who remained silent, will have lost their claim to leadership,” a Palestinian historian friend remarked after popular outrage forced the Palestinian Authority’s Mahmoud Abbas to rescind his decision to postpone the Report at the Human Rights Council.
Can anyone possibly believe this was the right call? That weakening the biggest moderate force in Palestine is an acceptable trade-off for sheltering Israel from possible-and-not-certain war-crimes proceedings — proceedings it could spare itself from if it credibly investigates them itself? This is a case where Obama handed the car keys back to a sloppy-drunk Netanyahu and took them away from the guy nursing a tonic water at the end of the bar who’s already getting eyed as a mark by the thugs over at the juke box.
Update: A friend emails me with a good point that makes me want to clarify this post. As stated in the Windy version of this thing, what hurts Abbas doesn’t necessarily benefit Hamas, and Hamas’ stated refusal to accept elections next year testifies to their own weakness and unpopularity. But that just underscores the point. Gaza has many meanings, but it also raises the possibility of marginalizing Hamas. All the more reason not to push on a front that ends up kicking the legs out from under the moderates.