Fatah: Obama in lobbyists pockets

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah Party says all hopes in the Obama administration have “evaporated,” accusing the White House of caving in to pressure from the pro-Israel lobby and backing off a demand to freeze Jewish settlements.

Fatah also accused the U.S. of failing to set a clear agenda for a new round of Mideast peace talks, according to an internal memo, dated Oct. 12 and issued by Fatah’s Office of Mobilization and Organization, which is headed by the party’s No. 2, Mohammed Ghneim.

“All hopes placed in the new U.S. administration and President [Barack] Obama have evaporated,” the document said. Obama “couldn’t withstand the pressure of the Zionist lobby, which led to a retreat from his previous positions on halting settlement construction and defining an agenda for the negotiations and peace.”

The Palestinians initially greeted Obama’s election with enthusiasm. But in recent weeks, the U.S. appears to have softened its stance on settlements. Washington says it has not abandoned the objective of halting settlement construction, but U.S. officials have indicated they do not see this as a condition for resuming talks.

The memo comes at a time of turmoil within Fatah after Abbas quickly reversed a decision to suspend efforts to bring Israel before a U.N. war crimes tribunal in connection with the Gaza war. — ap