Thursday, May 21, 2020

Welcome to the Abbas comedy show and ongoing Palestinian tragedy - by Jonathan S. Tobin

The tragedy of the Palestinians is that they could have had peace and an independent state if their leaders been willing to give up the illusion that Israel could one day be eliminated. Instead, they have chosen corruption, fantasies about the end of Israel and more comedic relief from Abbas. It’s a poor bargain, but until Palestinians decide they want something better from their leaders, it’s all they’ll ever have.

Jonathan S. Tobin..
20 May '20..

If you think you’ve seen this movie before, you’re right.

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has declared that he is abrogating all agreements with Israel so many times it’s a wonder that he could do so again with a straight face. Indeed, he started making these threats as soon as he succeeded PLO chairman Yasser Arafat and has never really stopped during the course of the 15 years of his four-year term as leader of the P.A.

The latest occasion for his usual theatrics is the possibility that Israel might extend sovereignty into parts of the West Bank, as envisioned by the Trump administration’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan. Abbas didn’t merely reject the Trump scheme, as he did several other even more generous Mideast plans in the past. He refused even to negotiate with the Trump administration.

The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is looking to take advantage of Trump’s promise that Israel could move on the Jewish settlements there if the Palestinians didn’t join in the talks. So Abbas is attempting to blackmail the world into forcing Israel to back down by threatening to blow up the Middle East—or create enough chaos in the West Bank and elsewhere to make Netanyahu think twice about making good on his campaign promises.

Or at least that’s what he wants the world to believe he’s doing.

Surely, not even the most clueless and credulous observers of the Palestinians—and by that, I refer to the so-called “experts” about the Middle East in the foreign-policy establishment and the mainstream press—could possibly fall for his act.

That’s not just because Abbas has tried this gambit many times before. It’s because even in the same statement in which he made his threat to implode the P.A.—thereby forcing Israel to directly administer the West Bank and to end all security cooperation with the Israelis—he included a caveat basically saying “never mind.”

Even in the same breath that the Palestinians threaten to blow up the region again, Abbas’s mouthpieces conceded that the cooperation would continue. So would the kleptocratic rule of the West Bank on the part of Abbas’s Fatah Party that passes for government in the realm of the P.A.

Why then does he even bother to repeat this tired routine?

(Continue to Full Column)

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