Sep 11 2014

Abbas’ new initiative

Published by at 1:09 pm under Articles,Palestinian politics

Following appeared in the Jordan Times newspaper

By Daoud Kuttab

“I have had it up to here,” said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the emir of Qatar and the head of Hamas.

“I have had it with Hamas, with Arabs with Israel and even with Fateh.”

Abbas’ words and the minutes of the meetings of the three on the eve of the ceasefire agreement were made public by the Lebanese daily Al Akhbar recently.

With angry words, Abbas accused Hamas of lying. He said Hamas leader Khaled Mishaal’s commitment to limit the resistance in the West Bank to non-violent action has proved to be wrong. Proof, the capture by Israel of 93 Hamas supporters allegedly plotting to start a violent Intifada and try to overthrow Abbas.

While Mishaal vehemently denied and belittled the Israeli allegation, Abbas said he had evidence that Hamas had arms in the West Bank from an intelligence officer.

“Almost daily we catch them with weapons,” he told the two.

“I tell Farraj to take away their weapons and release them after a short imprisonment.”

Abbas also accused Hamas of creating a shadow government in Gaza, despite the agreement on the unity government, and of irresponsibly prolonging the war by refusing the initial Egyptian offer, which was later accepted.

Abbas did not give details about his dissatisfaction with Fateh, but one can easily assume that he is referring to the constant bickering and internal fighting among the Fateh leadership over petty issues and personal interests.

The most important part of the Palestinian leader’s efforts appears to focus on obtaining the support of the Islamic Hamas movement and fellow Arabs for his new strategy aimed at ending the Israeli occupation.

After obtaining a written approval from Hamas to join the Rome Statutes that regulate joining the International Criminal Court, the Palestinian leader wanted Mishaal’s approval for his peace plan.

Mishaal hesitated, according to the transcripts, and promised an answer within 24 hours. When no answer came, Abbas turned much of his private criticism to Hamas, publicly using Egyptian and Palestinian media outlets to vent.

But with or without Hamas, the Abbas initiative was launched.

For the first time in recent memory, Palestinians appear to be committed to a plan of their own that will not be detailed if others reject it.

According to several Palestinian sources, the plan, which was presented to the US and to the Arab League, focuses on drawing the borders between Israel and the state of Palestine first.

The three-year plan thus calls on Israel to begin serious negotiations about the borders for three months.

If the Israelis refuse to accept this offer, the Palestinians, with help from the international community, will seek approval for the offer at the UN Security Council — possibly under Chapter 7.

If the US vetoes the UNSC resolution, Palestinians will join the International Criminal Court and other UN agencies.

Meanwhile, if Palestinians see no effort to draw the borders and end the constant encroachment on Palestinian land, Abbas threatened to stop his security forces’ coordination with the Israeli army.

A final step by the Palestinians, according to the plan, would be simply to throw away the administrative keys of running the lives of Palestinians as subcontractors to Israel and let Israel run its own occupation with all that it entails.

Many are wondering and questioning whether Abbas will carry out this threats and where he found the courage to stand up to Israel, Hamas and his own Fateh movement.

Those who know the 79-year-old Palestinian leader insist that he is truly a man of peace, but also a man of his words.

When he promised the Israelis that there would not be a third Intifada, he delivered what he promised. Now, as he approaches 80 and with no ambition to run again for any political office, many are saying that Abbas wants to leave the political scene with a legacy of having done everything he could using non-violent means that he and all peace-loving Palestinians can be proud of.

If he fails, will be for the next generation of Palestinian leaders to decide whether to continue with his strategy, to adopt the Hamas military approach or return to Arafat’s strategy of trying to combine politics with military action.

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