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Time for Abbas to Retire

Mike Whitney


May 23, 2006

Mahmoud Abbas has little to show for his two years as Palestinian president. He has neither produced a settlement nor forced Israel to sit down and negotiate terms for a final agreement. Just this week, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert brushed aside Abbas’ advances saying that talks would be pointless because Abbas is "powerless" to speak for his people.

If this is so, then why was Sharon so eager to help Abbas win the election by shuttling him around the territories?

In truth, Abbas is exactly the president that Israel wants, a feeble, ineffective bureaucrat who gets his marching-orders from Tel Aviv and poses no threat to Israel’s territorial ambitions.

In the highly-charged atmosphere of extra-judicial assassinations, routine bombing raids, and economic strangulation, the problem of Abbas’ failed leadership has become more serious. Israel is making every effort to torpedo the newly-elected Hamas government and Abbas is eagerly lending a hand. So far, Israel’s success is evident in the breakdown of order in the Gaza where running battles between the rival security teams are becoming commonplace.

Abbas has condemned the recent up-tick in violence saying, "Civil war is the red line that no one dares to cross". But his empty rhetoric hasn’t matched his actions. In fact, his nonstop criticism of Hamas has destabilized the new government and increased the probability of greater turmoil.

Just 2 weeks ago Abbas fired-off a verbal salvo that was intended to challenge Hamas' authority and embolden their enemies. He stated, "The constitution gives me clear and definite authority to remove a government from power."

"Remove the elected government from power"? And whose interests would that serve; Palestine’s or Israel’s?

Abbas is walking a tightrope; trying to keep the peace while abetting Israel’s attacks on Hamas. He needs to choose which side he is really on.

Abbas knows that Israeli Prime Minister Olmert has already decided to unilaterally set Israel’s permanent borders in violation of UN resolutions and international law. He also knows that the new boundaries will include vast swathes of the Jordan Valley, West Bank settlement-blocks, and East Jerusalem. Still, Abbas ignores these glaring violations and spends the bulk of his time scolding Hamas for not "recognizing Israel" or some other foolishness.


Does Abbas really believe that the Israeli leadership is so sensitive that they "give a damn" whether Hamas recognizes them or not?

As for Hamas; how could they not "recognize Israel". Israel is identifiable at every check-point and road block, every house-demolition and detention; every routine shooting and random act of brutality.

What part of this hodge-podge of inhumanity has Hamas failed to acknowledge?

Abbas job is to demand Israel’s immediate withdrawal from the occupied territories and to defend the elected government of Palestine. He should stop placating Israel and abandon this crazy idea of thwarting Hamas at every turn. If he truly believes his time would be better spent defending Israel’s rights than the rights of the Palestinian people then he should step down run for a spot in the Knesset. There’s no room for him as president of the Palestinian Authority.

Abbas should take a refresher course on leadership. Arafat endured two years of misery in his dilapidated Muq’tada, cut off from the outside world and surrounded by Israeli tanks, when he could have been sunning himself on the Riviera. He did it for his people and for the cause of justice.

What about Abbas? What suffering has he endured for Palestinian liberation?

In 2 years he’s never even gotten a seat at the negotiating table and yet, he still picks up his paycheck every week for services-rendered.

This week Israel increased its air raids and assassinations while tightening its lethal blockade of food and medical supplies to the West Bank and Gaza.

What is Abbas’ reaction to these continuing outrages?

Abbas agreed to sit down for a "happy-face" photo-op with Israeli politicos Shimon Peres and Tzipi Livni so that Olmert could boast to Bush that he is working for peace.

How can anyone look at the photos of Abbas nuzzling up to Israeli official Tzipi Livni and not feel humiliated by the way he has disgraced himself and his people?

Did Abbas ask Livni whether she enjoyed starving Palestinians to death or would that have been too impolite?

For years, Israel complained that they had "no partner in peace". Now, it is clear that they were looking for a man like Abbas who would grovel in silence while the contours of an expanded Israel were set in stone.

Mahmoud Abbas has been a catastrophe for the Palestinian people. He has failed to achieve a settlement, maintain the peace, or even reduce the daily suffering of Israeli occupation. As the country edges closer towards a humanitarian disaster or possibly civil war, it is doubtful that Abbas will provide the guidance needed to avoid an even greater tragedy.

Palestine needs strong leadership now more than ever. Abbas should either step down or be removed before the bloodshed escalates.

:: Article nr. 23487 sent on 24-may-2006 00:49 ECT


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