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WHY ABBAS DID IT

PLO President Mahmoud Abas & Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to reconcile governments (photo credit: IDF, World Economic Forum)

 What possessed moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to suddenly join forces with Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh, whose organization is bent on Israel's annihilation? As for the timing, it was even more puzzling - it came smack in the middle of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's apparent breakthrough in the clash between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu over the release of Israeli-Arab terrorists. The latest Abbas gambit has exposed the Palestinian leader's goal of seeking an imposed UN solution, rather than a U.S. brokered peace accord.

The Abbas policy is to seek an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines and the return of the Palestinian refugees not to Palestine, but Israel.

  Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was never delighted about Secretary Kerry's current peace mission. When it began nine months ago, Abbas was in the middle of his diplomatic intifada at the UN and elsewhere, aimed at pressuring Israel and eventually seeking an imposed solution that would be to his advantage. But as the Kerry contacts proceeded it has become abundantly clear the U.S. is demanding compromises by both sides. For example, what really rankled Abbas were the repeated statements by Barack Obama and John Kerry about the need for the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a 'Jewish' state.

 

 This point goes to the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Netanyahu has accepted the need for a partition of the ancient Land of Israel and the subsequent founding of a Palestinian state. In return, he insists that Abbas also agree to recognize Israel as the Jewish state. But this is a total non-starter by even the moderate Palestinian partner, who opposes terrorism, but categorically rejects any idea of Israel being the Jewish state. Dr. Saeb Erekat, the elegant English speaking voice of Abbas to the world, has even declared: 'Never in a thousand years will we recognize Israel as a Jewish state!' The Palestinians contend that Jews are followers of the religion of Judaism and not a national entity, and as such are not entitled to a state of their own. What does that imply? Simply this: the Abbas policy is to seek an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines and the return of the Palestinian refugees not to Palestine, but Israel. Moreover, he also sees himself as the guarantor of Palestinians' rights inside Israel.

 

'I have no intention of betraying my Palestinian principles!' - Abbas

 But if Abbas were to recognize Israel as a Jewish state this would imply that millions of refugees and their descendants would not be coming back to swamp Israel, but rather to their state in the West Bank and Gaza. Moreover, future Palestinian governments would have no say about Palestinians living inside Israel, where they enjoy equal rights and services with their Jewish fellow citizens. The fact is that a majority of the Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and the refugee camps in Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon would never support it. On the contrary, they would view it as a capitulation and Abbas as a traitor to the cause. Recently, the Palestinian President, who is aged 79, declared: 'I have no intention of betraying my Palestinian principles!'

 

Tzipi Livni, John Kerry, Saeb Erekat (photo credit: U.S. Department of State)

 So just how far, if at all, is Abbas ready to go in accepting the UN Partition Plan that called for the establishment of 'independent Arab and Jewish states'? The fact is that nearly all Palestinians reject the Partition Plan to this very day and Abbas has no intention of going down in Palestinian history as the leader who capitulated to the Jewish state. What evidence is there to verify this deduction? President Abbas is a shrewd politician who realized early on that Yasser Arafat's duplicitous policy of waging peace with one hand and terror with the other would never succeed against Israel. But like Arafat, who refused to even respond to U.S. President Bill Clinton's plan for a two-state solution at Camp David, Abbas also appears to have rejected the latest American proposal. And why is that? Just look at what has transpired over the past few weeks: 

  • Secretary Kerry blasted the announcement by Israel's Housing Minister Uri Ariel to build more housing units in the Jerusalem suburb of Gilo. Note: Israeli negotiator Tzipi Livni also castigated Uriel, a member of Naftali Bennett's far-right party. Then the dispute came between Kerry and Netanyahu over Israel's fourth release of Palestinian terrorists (an Israeli concession to cajole Abbas into cooperating with the Kerry mission to establish a Palestinian state). Kerry had indicated to Abbas that Israeli Arabs would be included, although this was not cleared with Netanyahu. The Israeli PM was placed in an unenviable position of being pressed into setting free Israeli Arab killers, who had murdered many of their fellow citizens. Obviously this is a very sensitive issue for the Israeli public without even an Abbas commitment to carry on the peace contacts beyond the April 29th deadline.
  • Netanyahu sought further clarification from the U.S., and Kerry came up with the idea of the U.S. freeing Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, who has already served 29 years in an American penitentiary and is due to be released in another year and a half. All this was apparently resolved and a solution agreed just days after the precise date for the Israeli release of the terrorists. However, Abbas exploited the delay to swiftly apply for Palestinian membership in 15 UN organizations. This circumvented the negotiating track with Israel and constituted a flagrant violation of the Palestinians' commitment to stick with the Kerry mission.
  • But after American envoy Martin Indyk, Israeli negotiator Tzipi Livni, and Dr. Saeb Erekat had apparently cooled off the flare-up, Abbas dropped another bombshell - he rushed to Gaza to sign a reconciliation agreement with his archrival, Ismail Haniya of Hamas. Within five weeks, the Fatah movement and Abbas are to draft plans for a new unified Palestinian government.

  

In the past, Abbas signed three similar reconciliation agreements with Hamas in 2007, 2011 and 2012; in each case their shelf life was very short. Abbas must have considered the consequences, knowing full well he was sabotaging chances for future progress.

 What are its prospects? In the past, Abbas signed three similar reconciliation agreements with Hamas in 2007, 2011 and 2012; in each case their shelf life was very short. Abbas must have considered the consequences, knowing full well he was sabotaging chances for future progress. There is no way Netanyahu would agree to negotiate with the hybrid of Haniya-Abbas. In addition, Israel would impose some economic sanctions while the U.S. would also take diplomatic umbrage. Moreover, the step might halt $400 million in annual American economic aid to the Palestinian Authority because U.S. law bars economic aid to terror organizations such as Hamas. In Washington, the State Department issued this reaction: 'It's hard to see how Israel can be expected to sit down and negotiate with a group that denies its right to exist'. And the Hamas-Fatah accord would 'certainly complicate the process'.

 

 But it's not over till it's over - perhaps Fatah and Hamas cannot strike a deal that Abbas can then present to the international community as a unified plan, and start revving up the diplomatic intifada against Israel. Meanwhile President Obama has raised the idea of the U.S. taking a timeout from its peace efforts with the attitude of 'a plague on both their houses'. The next five weeks will tell whether Abbas and Haniya are still incompatible bedfellows. Have Fatah members forgotten that Hamas fanatics threw some of their handcuffed brethren off the roofs of high-rise buildings when they carried out their Gaza coup in 2007? For its part, Hamas is eager to team up with the Palestinian Authority in order to ease the current pressure from Egypt. Cairo views Hamas as an offshoot of the radical Muslim Brotherhood it is combating in a bloody power-struggle inside Egypt.

 

 Israel has good reason to pour invective on the Abbas pivot to Hamas. Just take a brief look at the Hamas (Islamic Resistance) Charter; all 36 of its articles spew vitriolic hatred at Israel and the Jews. 

 

 

 

 

  • Article 7: 'The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight Jews and kill them. Then the Jews will hide behind rocks and trees, and the rocks and trees will cry out, O' Moslem, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him'.
  • Article 11: 'The land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf (holy possession), consecrated for future Muslim generations until Judgment Day. No one can renounce it or any part, or abandon it or any part'.
  • Article 13: 'Peace initiatives and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences contradict the principles of Hamas'.

 

Hamas emerged...with the goal of launching terrorism against Israel and rejecting any diplomatic solution. This is its raison d'etre and what separates it from Fatah...

 Questions: Abbas contends that Hamas will honor his commitments and is comparable to Naftali Bennett's far Right party in Netanyahu's government. However, Bennett is not launching rockets into Gaza aimed at killing Palestinian men women or children. Nor does he advocate all Moslems (whether or not they hide behind trees or rocks). Will Hamas Prime Minister, Haniya, in Gaza give explicit orders to crack down on all rocket attacks from his territory? Will Abbas continue to restrain Hamas terror cells from operating on the West Bank against Israel? Hamas emerged in 1988, with the goal of launching terrorism against Israel and rejecting any diplomatic solution. This is its raison d'etre and what separates it from Fatah, despite the fact that Abbas now argues that Hamas will support his diplomatic tactics.

 

 

 David Essing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Rivki Matan Editor

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