Mahmoud Abbas will not be able to make any real concessions to bring about peace with Israel. Like Arafatt, Abbas has already made it clear that as far as he's concerned, it's either 100% or nothing.
The international community has failed to pay enough attention to what the Palestinian Authority leadership was -and still is - telling its people. Ever since the Middle East process, the Americans and Europeans (and to a certain extent the Israelis) refused to listen to what Yasser Arafat was telling his people in Arabic.
The message that came out of Arafat's authority was that Israel is and remains an enemy despite the signing of the Oslo Accords. Arafat also made it clear to his people and the Arab and Muslim masses that he would never give up "one inch of the Palestinian land" and that any leader who compromises on the Palestinians' right would be condemned as a traitor.
By turning a blind eye, the international community, especially those countries that were funding the Palestinian Authority, allowed Arafat to unleash a wave of incitement against Israel through the Palestinian media, mosques and other platforms.
That is exactly why Arafat was unable to make any concessions during the failed Camp David summit in 2000. Arafat was unable to accept anything less than 100%. How could he have done so when he himself had been telling his people that any leader who makes concessions to Israel is a traitor? The incitement against Israel - which, ironically, escalated after the peace process began - served as a boomerang because it tied Arafat's hands and made it impossible for him to make even a one percent concession to Israel.
Abbas, Arafat's successor, is repeating the same mistake. Abbas has done almost nothing to change the tone in the Palestinian media and public rhetoric. The Palestinian media continues to tell the Palestinian public every day how bad Israel is and that the Israelis should never be trusted. And then there are the stories in the Palestinian media about Jews using wild pigs and "super rats" to drive Palestinians out of their fields and homes.
When you are inciting your people day and night against Israel and the Jews, what will your people think of you, Abbas, when they see you sitting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and talking peace? They will spit in your face. They will say, "But you told us, Mr. President, that we should not trust the Israelis and that they don't really want peace, so why are you talking to them?"
The anti-Israel incitement has another negative impact. It drives more Palestinians into the open arms of Hamas and other fundamentalist groups. The Palestinian Authority receives American and European taxpayers' money to build TV and radio stations which are then used to preach hatred not only against Israel and the Jews, but the entire West and the "infidels" as well. As a result of this campaign of hatred and incitement, the Palestinians have raised an entire generation that glorifies suicide bombings and regards Osama Bin Laden as a hero.
What can we do to change the situation? The Palestinian Authority is totally dependent on the US and EU for its survival. Why not use the funding as a linkage to persuade Abbas to change the tone and halt the incitement? It was linkage that successfully encouraged the former Soviet Union to grant human rights to their citizens with the Jackson-Vannick Amendment. Similarly, the US and the EU can condition further financial aid on a halt to incitement or lowering the Israel-tone. This could be done gradually and in phases. Step by step. Once you see results, then you channel money. Why can't someone bang on the table and tell Abbas that he's causing huge damage to the future generations of the Palestinians? Sadly, instead of paying enough attention to this phenomenon, the US State Department continues to believe that the main "obstacle" to peace is a settlement "outpost" on a remote hilltop in the West Bank. These outposts, which usually consist of a number of empty vans and caravans, can always be removed - as has been the case in the past few years. But it's harder to wipe out the damage caused by daily inciting and hate-mongering.