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PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT'S DIPLOMATIC SHOCK TACTICS

Did Abbas really shoot himself in the foot?

Palestinian President Abbas speaking at the UN

 Why did the UN Security Council reject a Palestinian resolution demanding Israel's unconditional withdrawal from all of the West Bank by the end of 2017? Clearly Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas should have realized there are limits to ganging up on Israel, even at the world body. Did Abbas imply get carried away with the built-in majority for the Palestinians in such bodies as the General assembly, and the Human Rights Council that spends most of its time bashing the Jewish State? The question is, why did Abbas persist in presenting the one-sided resolution when he could have waited until after the New Year when the new composition of the Security Council would probably have passed it with the nine member majority? Simply because he knew the U.S. would have cast its veto and killed the resolution anyway. So he chose not to annoy the U.S., and gained popularity points on the West Bank for making Israel sweat it out.

 Now after losing the dramatic vote by gaining only eight of the required nine member votes, an angry Abbas has now declared that he will apply for membership in the International Criminal Court in The Hague with the intention of pressing war crime charges against Israel. But Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu has responded by saying this is a two-edged sword - it is Abbas who will have to explain why the Palestinians have launched thousands of rockets and mortars at Israeli civilians from Gaza, which Israel actually evacuated some eight years ago!

By going to the Security Council and following it up with the ICC gambit, Abbas has signaled he has no intention, despite the prodding of America, to ever resume peace negotiations with Prime Minister Netanyahu.

 Add to this Hamas terrorism that has killed and maimed thousands of Israeli civilians. Moreover, Abbas has refused repeatedly to renew negotiations with Israel, and has opted for launching a diplomatic war which has now ended in the resounding Palestinian defeat of his diplomatic intifada against the Jewish state. Even Hamas, his Palestinian rivals in Gaza, whom Abbas also represents, has hauled Abbas over the coals for his UN failure.

 But this is not the end of the story. By going to the Security Council and following it up with the ICC gambit, Abbas has signaled he has no intention, despite the prodding of America, to ever resume peace negotiations with Prime Minister Netanyahu.

 'And there's the rub'...

 Obviously Abbas was aware that a crucial election campaign is now being waged in Israel that will likely determine if Netanyahu will form a new Right wing government that opposes the two state solution, or whether a Left wing Labor coalition will come to power that will seek a fair compromise that includes a Palestinian state living in peace alongside a secure Israel. But Abbas has ignored this possibility and actually lent Netanyahu a hand by signaling to the Israeli voters that the Palestinian leader prefers an imposed solution on the Jewish state. What Netanyahu calls an 'international diktat' that will ride roughshod over Israel's justified security needs.

 And this why the Obama administration opposed the Palestinian diplomatic moves, and persuaded Australia to also vote against, and five other states to abstain: United Kingdom, South Korea, Nigeria, Rwanda and Lithuania. (Netanyahu went out of his way to thank Rwanda and Nigeria (which is also the target of Islamist terrorism by the brutal Boko Haram).

"It is an escalatory step that will not achieve any of the outcomes most Palestinians have long hoped to see for their people."

 It is reasonable to assume the U.S., which has not given up on a negotiated peace, is hoping that Labor will win the election and form the next Israeli government. Such a development would reopen the door to a new international push to jump-start the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. And that is why America opposed the Abbas tactics both at the UN and now the move to join the International Criminal Court. The U.S. State Department was unequivocal in condemning the Palestinian escalation:

 "It is an escalatory step that will not achieve any of the outcomes most Palestinians have long hoped to see for their people."

 But it remains to be seen whether even Abbas is prepared to negotiate rather than curtail his current drive for an imposed agreement. Consider this: two Israeli leaders, Ehud Barak at Camp David 2000 and later Ehud Olmert, went the extra mile and offered the Palestinians, first Yasser Arafat and then Abbas himself, a far reaching deal that even partitioned Jerusalem and a withdrawal from nearly all the West Bank. However, both Palestinian leaders rejected the offers that included a clause about the finality of any future claims by either side. In other words, a final peace similar to the peace accords the Jewish state signed with Egypt and Jordan. Clearly no Israeli government is going to accept the return of hundreds of thousands potentially even millions of Palestinian refugees to the Jewish state. In other words, any future Israeli peace offer even from a Left wing government will not give up more than Barak and Olmert did in the past.

 Likud's new list of old faces...

 Likud party members have selected the Party's list of candidates that will now be presented to Israeli voters for the March 17th general election. Israeli voters cast one ballot in favor of the party list they choose. Usually the party that gets the most votes is called upon by the State President to form the new coalition government. It turns out the new Likud list is simply a reshuffle of the outgoing Knesset Members with no new faces to attract voters. In the last election Likud ran on a joint ticket with Lieberman and wound up with only 18 MKs in the 120 member parliament. If the same Likudniks are running again, this does not auger well for the electoral attractiveness of the Likud party.

... in the current campaign the cost of living and soaring housing prices have so far dominated. Although Netanyahu has called the new old list 'superb', there is not a single candidate who has anything new on the economy.

 Moreover, in the current campaign the cost of living and soaring housing prices have so far dominated. Although Netanyahu has called the new old list 'superb', there is not a single candidate who has anything new on the economy. Although Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon successfully conducted the Gaza war last summer, the Likud will be vulnerable in the economic debate. Particularly since former Likud cabinet minister Moshe Kahlon is very popular for his slashing the cost of cell phone usage. But Kahlon quit the Likud to form his own party, charging the Likud has sold out the middle class and low income earners.

 On the Palestinian issue, Labor's Yitzhak Herzog and Tzipi Livni have lambasted the new Likud list as the same Right wing extremists who have weakened Israel in the international area and eroded Israel's standing. Herzog has promised a 'new economic deal' and a greater piece of the pie for the middle class and low income earners. Livni, who conducted contacts with the Palestinians in the outgoing government, has charged that the new Likud list will reject any attempt to break the diplomatic log-jam with the Palestinians. And in her words, when Israelis go to the polls they will have to decide whether they want to live in a Jewish state or a bi-national state with the Palestinians.

 New Likud election list:

  1. 1. Binyamin Netanyahu has said he favors a two state solution with Palestinians, however the top candidates (and the rest) on the Likud list are opposed to the founding of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.
  2. 2. Gilad Arden
  3. 3. Yuli Edelstein
  4. 4. Yisrael Katz
  5. 5. Miri Regev
  6. 6. Silvan Shalom
  7. 7. Zeev Elkin
  8. 8. Yariv Levine
  9. 9. Tzachi Hanegbi
  10. 10. Gila Gamliel
  11. 11. Yuval Steinitz
  12. 12. Danny Danon
  13. 13. Ofir Ecunis

 So even if Netanyahu forms the new government and tries to negotiate a two state solution, his own Likud party would torpedo it. It is a fact the Likud party institutions have never passed a resolution in support of Netanyahu's professed support for a two state solution. The new Likud list guarantees they never will.

 

 

 

 

 David Essing

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