June 6, 2006
Roll Back, Abbas!
By Israel Shamir
Abbas, the PNA’s president, is about to do a big mistake. So big that
it will be a cause for regret for many years to come. He decided to push for a referendum whether the Palestinians agree with The Prisoners’ Agreement.
The Prisoners’ agreement was made by leaders of Fatah, Hamas and other
groups presently in Israeli captivity, so one could think it is a
bilateral and non-controversial document. Indeed it is: this agreement
says the Palestinians are ready for peace with the Jewish state on
fulfilment of three conditions: (1) all POWs should be released; (2) Israel
should withdraw to 67’ borders, (3) and accept the Right of Return for
Palestinian refugees of 1948. The three conditions are fully based upon
UN resolutions and on the norms of international law; and there is no
slightest doubt Olmert’s government is not going to fulfil them.
When Rabbi Akiba, a Jewish sage of 2nd century AD, got carried away and proclaimed a military commander of the then Jewish Intifada against Rome
– The Messiah of Israel, his colleagues poured cold water on him:
"Sooner grass will grow on your cheeks than we’ll see Messiah". They
were right: Akiba was executed, and his commander was killed, and grass
grew on their tombs. Their words are perfectly suitable for the
Prisoners’ Agreement: no Zionist government of the Jewish state will
ever accept and fulfil these conditions, no matter how much they’d lie
to conceal this.
who needs this referendum? Next step, cats will run a referendum for
offering peace to dogs provided they will cease to pursue them. If all
Palestinians will answer yea, will it make the Jewish state to tremble
and accept the conditions? No, no, and again no. Fatah and Hamas know
that; Abbas understands that, and still he pushes for this meaningless
referendum. He is doing this to embarrass the legitimate government of Palestine,
for Hamas and Fatah differ on what would happen if these impossible
conditions will be fulfilled: a life-long truce or full peace. This
difference is as important for real politics as the difference between
eating a boiled egg from the rounded or a sharp end, in Gulliver’s
Travels. Even less: the Lilliputians actually ate eggs, while Hamas and
Fatah will never have a chance to test their theoretical difference in
real life. This does not mean these three conditions can’t be met; but
then, Israel won’t be a Jewish state, and it
won’t be led by a Zionist government, and the difference between Hamas
and Fatah will be even less relevant on this point.
Hamas is right to reject Abbas’ call. Now is not the time to deal with purely theoretical question of possible future. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof,
or in plain words, each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew
6:34). Worse, Abbas is not playing straight. Though he refers to the
Prisoners’ Agreement, he actually means something else: he is ready to
agree to "peace" if some prisoners will be released, in some places Israel will withdraw to the 67’ border, and some
(a token number) of refugees will be allowed back. This is also a
legitimate position; but Palestinians can’t accept or refuse it unless
the full details of an agreement with Israel
were known. Now, in absence of an agreement, the referendum is not just
premature: it is misleading. Let Abbas say frankly: "I want to make
peace with the Jewish state and rule over Palestine consisting of three or four cantons, without Jerusalem,
and with token release of token prisoners. And forget about the Return"
– and then referendum will be unnecessary, for the last elections gave
the answer of the people.
referendum is going to waste one of great achievements of Hamas
government – withdrawal of unconditional recognition of the Jewish
state made by Arafat and Fatah in the heyday of Oslo. Every agreement must be based on reciprocity: the Palestinians may recognise Israel in 1967 borders if and when Israel recognises Palestine in 1967 borders. Otherwise, Israel
will see its 1967 borders as a starting point for future conquests.
Hamas returned the Jewish-Palestinian dialogue back to sanity by
introducing the concept of reciprocity: and now Abbas wants to
surrender this most reasonable demand by recognising the Jewish state
The Jews applied a "moderate physical pressure" (torture, in Shabakese) trying to squeeze this recognition: they besiege Palestine,
they steal Palestinian money, block entrances and exits; by their
orders no American or European bank dares to trade or transfer money to
Palestine. The Jews want Palestinians to
surrender; and the referendum may be seen as a sign of surrender. Thus,
it would have dire consequences: Hamas’ legitimacy will be called in
doubt by its own electorate; freedom of manoeuvre so necessary for
carrying out negotiations with Olmert’s government will be severely
limited; the split within Palestinian society will become a fait
Zionists tempt Abbas to grasp more power than is due to him; to
interfere with rightful choice of the people; to disregard the election
of Hamas. Abbas took the bait: he succumbed to the Zionist temptation.
He forgot that he is the President of all Palestinians and preferred to
be the king of Fatah. He forgot that just a few months ago, Sharon and
Olmert proclaimed him "irrelevant" and "not a partner" – now he dreams
to crawl back to empty negotiations. This call for referendum is
accompanied with beefing up of Abbas’ own private army. Israel’s
wet dream is to have a civil war between Palestinian groups, and this
rash step of Abbas leads on the way to Hell. He should remember that
undermining of Hamas will not solve the problem; it will rather
undermine legitimacy of his PNA. Before it’s too late, Abbas should
rise up to the occasion and roll back his troops and his demands.