We are reassured that he is a moderate.
Israel is told that Abbas is the go-to guy that Israel must deal with in order to bring peace.
If Abbas has to go to the 22-member Arab League in order to get the OK to attend direct talks with Netanyahu, that is not a leader who is control.
In an interview last year, Olmert describes the real concessions he made to Abbas on land, Jerusalem, and refugees--and handed Abbas a map to sign that he agreed to a final peace agreement:
"He (Abbas) promised me the next day his adviser would come. But the next day Saeb Erekat rang my adviser and said we forgot we are going to Amman today, let's make it next week. I never saw him again."The point is that then, as now, Abbas is powerless to do anything without the agreement of the Arab world.
Daniel Pipes already wrote about this back in 1983. In How Important Is the PLO? he concludes:
Recognizing the critical role of Arab help has several implications for Middle East politics. First, it means that the PLO has very little of the political power so often ascribed to it. The PLO may appear to shape the policy of most Arab states, but in fact it reflects their wishes. It brings up the rear, echoing and rephrasing the weighted average of Arab sentiments. This suggests that it will moderate only when its Arab patrons want it to; so long as the Arab consensus needs it to reject Israel, the PLO must do so. Aspiring peacemakers in the Middle East must therefore not make settlement of the Arab-Israeli dispute contingent on PLO concurrence, for this is to give a veto to the organization least prone to compromise.Thanks to Soccer Dad for pointing out this Pipes article.
Second, while Arab rulers make the PLO rich and prominent, they also prevent it from becoming a representative body, an effective one, or a decent one. So long as it exists, the PLO will continue to ill-serve Palestinians by subordinating their interests to those of Qadhdhafi, Fahd, Asad, and Saddam Husayn. Do the Palestinians have an alternative to the PLO? Can they develop their own institutions, independent of the Arab states, which would cast off the PLO's illusory ambitions, discard its autocratic structure, accommodate Israel's existence, and promote practical interests? The "New Palestinian Movement" reportedly organized last fall in South Lebanon, the attempt of Palestinians living in the West to organize politically, or the efforts of West Bank mayors are moves in this direction. But their hopes of success must be slim, for no fledgling refugee organization has much chance against the weight of Arab consensus, which is still vested in the PLO.
Third, only the Arab states - and not Israel - can kill the PLO. By itself, Israeli force of arms, no matter how overwhelming, cannot crush this symbol of pan-Arabism; the PLO will last so long as it serves a purpose for the Arab states. The key Arab states (Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia) will join Egypt in recognizing Israel only when they have enough confidence in their own rule to dispense with hostility to Israel as a source of legitimacy; or when, as in Egypt, the endless futility of anti-Zionism makes it more of a political liability than a benefit. At that moment the PLO will lose both its support and its raison d'être.
Yesterday, we had one more example of just how right Daniel Pipes is.
In applying pressure to the Arab League, Obama may be getting an inkling to just how right.
And of how wrong his current Middle East policy is.
Technorati Tag: Israel and Gaza and Hamas and Operation Cast Lead.