Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I Don't Know, Some Might See Abbas Being Out Of Power As Being A Problem

I wrote yesterday about the fact that Abbas has postponed the elections for his position as President for almost 2 years now. As a result, for all the fanfare the Obama administration is lavishing over Abbas, the fact remains that he lacks any real authority (or respect) not only internally inside the West Bank--not to mention in Gaza--but also and externally in the Arab world.

And yet Obama continues this charade, dragging out Abbas as both a moderate and a peace partner, and talking about how the Arab world needs to work with him.

Addressing this obvious hole in Obama's peace talks, Michael Totten writes about Why Mahmoud Abbas Cannot Make Peace:

The only reason he retains even limited authority is because he extended his expired term in office and is propped up by Israel. He has no authority whatsoever in Gaza and lacks even influence in Lebanon, Syria, and Iran.

If the Iran-led Resistance Bloc was wounded or crumbling, if it was under irresistible pressure from within and without to reform or die, a deal might be possible and would be worth exploring. But that’s not what’s happening. None of the bloc’s leaders will even start peace talks, let alone finish them, while they’re rising in power and have no need to change.

Just a few years ago, Hamas was but one force among several in Gaza, but today it rules with a totalitarian fist. Syria and Hezbollah have seized de facto control over Lebanon, despite Hezbollah’s poor performance in the recent election, while Iran is nearing the threshold of becoming a nuclear-armed regional superpower.

If Abbas had the authority of the Jordanian and Egyptian governments, he might be able to force a cold peace on his people, but he doesn’t. The Resistance Bloc has successfully embedded itself in the Palestinian population and rules roughly half of it. Hamas would simply ignore any treaty Abbas might sign and continue its war against Israel, just as Hezbollah does whatever it wants up north in Lebanon. Abbas can’t put a stop even to his own part of this region-wide conflict any more than Saad Hariri in Beirut can end his.
And that could be why what Abbas is completely incapable of accomplishing through power, he may be trying to pull off through craft. After all--Abbas's goal is not to make peace; his goal is to make a Palestinian state.

Thus, Arlene Kushner notes what Abbas has been talking about and what he has been harping on:
While Netanyahu is talking about security, Abbas keeps saying the first thing to decide is borders. Deciding borders, he claims, will simplify the issues -- Jerusalem (how much goes to the Palestinian Arabs) and settlements (what, if anything, Israel would keep and thus where Israel could continue to build and where not).

This, you see, is why he now says only a month or two is necessary. Theoretically, there would be no "freeze" issue if it had been determined where Israel could build and where not. And if there freeze is only for a month or two, he likely imagines that he can push this to get it resolved before the freeze is over.

This -- the question of setting borders -- is what Abbas is after. The rest matters to him considerably less, or not at all. For he could then walk away from negotiations, go to the UN, and ask for recognition of a state, within the borders that Israel had already agreed to.

This might not happen, and the whole plan might backfire on him badly. But know that there is talk about Abbas doing this. Therefore, it is critical that Netanyahu not fall into a trap of agreeing to borders. Not even tentative borders, i.e., IF this and this is set in place, OK then I would also agree to these borders.

It would be a very dangerous and foolish business.
Abbas wouldn't have to have real power and authority to pull this off--let the UN do it.

Of course, Abbas would have to be assuming that Europe would then go ahead and supply the billions that would be necessary to even think about getting such a state running. Considering how forthcoming Europe--and the US--has been so far, there is no reason for Abbas to think otherwise. There is a certain element of fatalism in that, plunging ahead and assuming that somehow others will pick up the pieces.

But it is no worse than what Obama is doing, which actually amounts to the same thing.

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