Abbas Threatens Something or Other (WEEKLY STANDARD) BY ELLIOTT ABRAMS / BLOG 04/16/12)
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The chairman of the PLO, Mahmoud Abbas (who is also president of the
Palestinian Authority), has drafted a letter to Israeli prime
minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for delivery this week. What is
apparently the current state of the draft is published by Times of
Israel, a terrific new web site about the Middle East.
This missive is unlikely to advance the cause of peace. What Abbas
calls his "historic Peace Proposal" includes, for example, these
"Security will be guaranteed by a third party accepted by both, to be
deployed on the Palestinian side. Jerusalem will serve as a capital
of two States. East Jerusalem capital of Palestine. West Jerusalem
capital of Israel. Jerusalem as an open city can be the symbol of
Ah, well. Here it seems Abbas is abandoning hope of being able to
maintain security in his new state. But surely he knows that Israel
has always opposed the presence of third forces that will, as they
have in southern Lebanon, never fight terror and will get in the way
of Israeli forces trying to do so. And as for Jerusalem, is he
seriously proposing that the 1967 line be reestablished, so that
Israel is in "West Jerusalem" and "Palestine" controls the Old City?
And how can there possibly be an "open city" until Palestinians have
achieved the security goal set out for them in the Roadmap (on which
Abbas relies in his letter)?
·Palestinians declare an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism
and undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and
restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent
attacks on Israelis anywhere.
·Rebuilt and refocused Palestinian Authority security apparatus
begins sustained, targeted, and effective operations aimed at
confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantlement of
terrorist capabilities and infrastructure. This includes commencing
confiscation of illegal weapons and consolidation of security
authority, free of association with terror and corruption.
With Hamas in control of Gaza and certainly present in the West Bank,
just how would an "open city" work? How would Israel prevent
terrorists from entering it if there is no border between Israel and
the open city of Jerusalem?
The Abbas draft goes on to blame Israel for Abbas´s, and the PA´s,
Twenty years ago, we concluded with Israel an agreement under
international auspices which was intended to take the Palestinian
people from occupation to independence. Now, as a result of actions
taken by successive Israeli governments, the Palestinian National
Authority no longer has any authority, and no meaningful jurisdiction
in the political, economic, social, territorial and security spheres.
In other words, the P.A. lost its reason [sic] d’être.
Under this theory, the loss of Gaza to Hamas, the inability of the PA
to hold elections since 2006, the weakness of the Fatah Party—you
name it—are all the fault of Israel. This is absurd, but so is
Abbas´s claim that the PA has "no authority." For example, on April
4, 2012, a Committee to Protect Journalists statement "condemns the
Palestinian Authority´s recent anti-press actions in which one
journalist was detained for a week for reporting on alleged
corruption and spying and a second was questioned over a critical
article and his posts on social media."
Similarly, last year Human Rights Watch reported this: "Security
forces of the Palestinian Authority (PA) have arbitrarily detained
scores of West Bank journalists since 2009, and in some cases abused
them during interrogation in a manner that amounted to torture. Like
other Palestinian victims of abuse by the PA’s security services,
these journalists confront a virtual wall of impunity when they try
to hold their abusers accountable, leaving the victims feeling
vulnerable to further harassment and abuse."
All that sounds like quite an assertion of "authority"
and "jurisdiction" to me.
Abbas is in a very difficult corner, to be sure. While the "Arab
Spring" is blossoming around him, he cannot hold elections (though
his own term and the parliament´s both ran out years ago) because
Hamas won´t allow them in Gaza, and Fatah can´t be sure of winning
them in the West Bank. He can´t win a statehood resolution at the
United Nations. He can´t negotiate with Israel without demanding a
construction freeze in settlements and Jerusalem (and he demands this
again in his letter) because President Obama forced him into that
position by calling it a precondition for talks.
Abbas can improve life in the West Bank, but seems to fear that would
only benefit Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. And, to be fair to
Abbas, ´merely´ ensuring that West Bank Palestinians live a better
and freer life, with more jobs and fewer Israeli raids, has not been
his central objective neither has it been that of the U.S. government.
The Abbas draft ends with this:
Should the Government of Israel refuse to honor these above-
referenced obligations, we will seek the full and complete
implementation of international law as it pertains to the powers and
responsibilities of Israel as occupying power in all of the occupied
Palestinian territory. For the Palestinian Authority—now stripped of
all meaningful authority—cannot continue to honor agreements while
Israel refuses to even acknowledge its commitments. The P.A. is no
longer as was agreed and this situation cannot continue.
Come again? That sounds like a threat to dissolve the PA, but the
Times of Israel also reports that he resolved not to do that.
"Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared his commitment to a
strong Palestinian Authority (PA), rebutting an open letter by former
Israeli minister Yossi Beilin that called on him to dissolve the
PA. “Dissolving the PA is not so simple,” Abbas told journalists
during an official visit to Japan Saturday. “The PA is an achievement
and we must not dissolve it but strengthen it.”
So what does Abbas´s threat mean? The best guess is that it means
he´s in a difficult corner and an angry letter seemed like a good
idea at the time. For American officials anxiously watching Iran´s
nuclear program, the death toll in Syria, and the mess in Egypt, the
Abbas letter will be just another reminder that the "peace process"
is frozen solid.
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