Abbas, you will recall, is “moderate” in the eyes of the world because he wants to destroy Israel more slowly than Hamas does.
Another from our Not An Auspicious Beginning file: “President Obama’s first call ‘was to President Abbas,'” by Tom Baldwin in the Times, January 22 (thanks to all who sent this in):
President Obama placed the Middle East at the forefront of his first hours in office yesterday as he sought to make good on his promise of “ushering in a new era of peace”.
In a flurry of telephone calls from the Oval Office, he reached out to leaders in the region and vowed to engage immediately in pursuit of a permanent Arab-Israeli settlement.
The spokesman for President Abbas revealed that Mr Obama had told the Palestinian leader that their conversation was his first with a foreign statesman since taking office. Mr Obama also spoke to President Mubarak of Egypt, Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, and King Abdullah of Jordan.
Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, said that the talks with Middle East leaders underlined a “commitment to active engagement in pursuit of Arab-Israeli peace from the beginning of his term”. He added: “In the aftermath of the Gaza conflict, he emphasised his determination to work to help consolidate the ceasefire by establishing an effective anti-smuggling regime to prevent Hamas from rearming, and facilitating, in partnership with the Palestinian Authority, a major reconstruction effort.”…