Daniel Greenfield has a wonderful article about the current situation with Mahmoud Abbas and the UN on his Sultan Knish blog.
It’s a long article that recounts the history of the Arab-Israel conflict since 1964 with sparkling clarity. It should be a permanent reference on this blog.
The section that describes where we are right now with this situation is insightful, breathtaking and well worth reading:
It might be 2011, but it might as well be 1996 or 2003 or any year in between. Except that the PLO’s power is about done. The negotiations don’t matter. Abbas will do his best to see that they fail, because it’s the only way he can survive his own people. And he needs to have the blame for the failure fall on Israel, because it’s the only way he can hang on to US and European support. As usual, nothing Israel can do will work, and whatever it does, it will get the blame. The media will go on chattering about settlements, as if that were the endgame here.
Statehood is a fiction that will move more money into the pockets of the Fatah elite, but it’s also a double-edged sword. Fatah’s only defense against a Hamas takeover is that it can extract territory through negotiations– something Hamas cannot do because it refuses to negotiate for anything but temporary truces. A unilateral statehood declaration, if taken seriously, would also mean the end of negotiations. That’s something Abbas can’t afford because then his usefulness to Hamas is at an end.
Abbas needs Israel to keep from being overrun by Hamas, but he needs Hamas to keep his image as the moderate alternative to those crazy guys in Gaza. The balancing act has drawn billions in foreign aid, but infuriated everyone. Now Abbas is playing an even more dangerous game, going for broke to shake down Israel and the world into giving him some breathing room. It’s a desperate move, but it may also work in the short term. In the long term though, the whole shebang is still doomed.
The Palestinian Authority is not a government, it’s a terrorist organization in suits and ties. It has shown that it is not self-supporting and not capable of running anything besides a rocket launcher. It existed only as long as it was useful to someone.
The PLO began life because it was useful to the Syrians and Egyptians. When they no longer wanted it, it was still useful to the USSR. When the USSR no longer wanted it, it became useful to America. But now it’s running out of sponsors.
The United States has been funding the Palestinian Authority since 1992 and it has gotten nothing for it, and while the foreign policy establishment insists on blaming Israel for that, there’s only so long that game can go as well. The Bush Administration dumped Arafat and Abbas knows that sooner or later his turn will come. With no more options, no ability to reach a final status agreement and Western patrons whose foreign aid budgets will start tightening in the face of the bankruptcy, he is playing his only remaining card.
Either way the Palestinian myth is on the verge of flickering out. Hamas may talk about Palestinian rights, but it has even less interest in them than the PLO did. Hamas was spawned by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Its goal is an Islamic state in Egypt and Gaza, and then all of Israel. It has replaced the Pan-Arabism of a Shukairy with a Pan-Islamism, that it meant to lead to a Global Caliphate. The leaders of Hamas are no less corrupt than Arafat’s cronies were, but it will take longer for the average Israeli Arab to figure that out.
The Arab and Muslim world has made very effective use of Israeli Arabs [Arabs within the land of Israel as a whole. - Eli.] as terrorists and bullies. From the Lebanese Civil War, to the streets of Iran, where Palestinian Arab terrorists are being used as snipers and gunmen to suppress protests against Ahmadinejad, they have always been weapons. Ideology has served to frame a mythical Palestinian identity for them in terms that make them all into mercenaries, terrorists and martyrs. Where Israel took in Jewish refugees, the Arab world deliberately perpetuated an Arab refugee problem in order to turn them into weapons. Once they were the weapons of Arab Socialism. Now they are the weapons of Islam.
The End of Palestine
I believe he’s right about this. Mahmoud Abbas had hoped that Obama would deliver Israel to him and he said as much in an interview with Jackson Diehl in May 2009.
Yet on Wednesday afternoon, as he prepared for the White House meeting in a suite at the Ritz-Carlton in Pentagon City, Abbas insisted that his only role was to wait. He will wait for Hamas to capitulate to his demand that any Palestinian unity government recognize Israel and swear off violence. And he will wait for the Obama administration to force a recalcitrant Netanyahu to freeze Israeli settlement construction and publicly accept the two-state formula.
Until Israel meets his demands, the Palestinian president says, he will refuse to begin negotiations. He won’t even agree to help Obama’s envoy, George J. Mitchell, persuade Arab states to take small confidence-building measures. “We can’t talk to the Arabs until Israel agrees to freeze settlements and recognize the two-state solution,” he insisted in an interview. “Until then we can’t talk to anyone.”
At that time (May 2009), Mahmoud Abbas fully expected Obama to run Netanyahu out of office:
Abbas and his team fully expect that Netanyahu will never agree to the full settlement freeze — if he did, his center-right coalition would almost certainly collapse. So they plan to sit back and watch while U.S. pressure slowly squeezes the Israeli prime minister from office. “It will take a couple of years,” one official breezily predicted. Abbas rejects the notion that he should make any comparable concession — such as recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, which would imply renunciation of any large-scale resettlement of refugees.
Instead, he says, he will remain passive. “I will wait for Hamas to accept international commitments. I will wait for Israel to freeze settlements,” he said. “Until then, in the West Bank we have a good reality . . . the people are living a normal life.” In the Obama administration, so far, it’s easy being Palestinian.
Abbas’s Waiting Game on Peace With Israel
Obama backed the wrong side in this fight and he’s going through the humiliation of being told by the Arab world that he wished to court so badly that he will be finished in Saudi Arabia and other places if he gives his veto to “Palestinian” statehood.
If Obama doesn’t give his veto (which will be necessary unless he can talk nine members of the Security Council to help him out in defeating the UN bid so that the veto won’t be necessary) – Obama will be excluded from the Middle East peace process that he campaigned in 2008 that he would address seriously on day one of his presidency.
If Obama is kicked out of the peace process by Abbas in favor of the international community and the ICC, he will be humiliated in an election year while he is facing even worse problems domestically.
Obama created this mess and I think/hope that this truly is the “End of Palestine” and the end of Obama’s presidency by January 2013.
Something else is that Abbas may be listening to Republican presidential candidates who don’t even pretend to think that the “Palestinians” have a valid cause. The candidates say the opposite, in fact.
Abbas may be worrying that Obama won’t win next year and “Palestine” will end that way. So this is his last shot for a number of reasons.
Let’s hope so.