The End of the PLO's Old-Guard Monopoly
"[Abbas's] resignation would actually be the most positive thing he has ever done for the Palestinians." — PLO representative.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas apparently believes that the Palestinians would not be able to survive for one day without him.
That must be why whenever he faces criticism from Palestinians, Abbas resorts to his old-new threat to resign.
Abbas is convinced that if he steps down -- as his critics and a growing number of Palestinians are demanding -- the Palestinian Authority will collapse and his people will face a new "nakba" [catastrophe].
But the truth is that the Palestinians would be better off in the post-Abbas era. His departure from the scene would mark the beginning of the end of the PLO's old guard monopoly over the Palestinian issue.
At a recent meeting of the PLO leadership in Ramallah, Abbas once again threatened to resign when he told participants that they should start searching for someone else to head the Palestinian Authority.
Abbas's threat to quit came after a number of PLO representatives criticized him for failing to make any achievements in the economic and political arenas.
The PLO officials said that instead of directly addressing their concerns, Abbas kept threatening to resign and dismantle the Palestinian Authority.
The officials said that Abbas appeared to be particularly enraged by the recent street protests demanding his resignation and the abrogation of the Oslo Accords.
Although the protests were initially directed against Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and the high cost of living, later the demonstrators started chanting slogans also against Abbas and his Palestinian Authority, prompting the Palestinian leadership to exert pressure on the organizers to halt their protests.
"President Abbas seemed to be very tense during the meeting," a PLO official said. "He was even panicking."
This was not the first time Abbas had threatened to resign. Over the past few years, he has made similar threats each time he comes under pressure from the US or the EU to resume peace talks with Israel or implement major reforms in the Palestinian Authority government and his Fatah faction.
This time, however, the PLO leaders who heard Abbas once again threaten to quit did not seem to be moved. In fact, some told reporters later that they wish Abbas would finally carry out his threat.
"The Palestinians can survive without Abbas," said another PLO representative. "His resignation would actually be the most positive thing he has ever done for the Palestinians."
The official said that Abbas was mistaken in believing that the Palestinian Authority would collapse and life would come to a standstill after he stepped down. Such a move would pave the way for the emergence of new and younger leaders who would be able to serve the Palestinians better, the official, who asked not to be identified, added.
Many Palestinians point out that Abbas has a long record of not fulfilling his promises. In Ramallah, it is hard these days to find a Palestinian who takes Abbas seriously.
Abbas, they say, has failed to fulfill his pledge to reform Fatah and get rid of icons of corruption who were responsible for the rise of Hamas to power in 2006. He has also failed to fulfill his promise to end the power struggle between Fatah and Hamas and bring democracy and freedom of speech to Palestinians.
Abbas is a leader who has never assumed responsibility for anything. Instead, he has always chosen to blame others for his failed policies. One day he blames Hamas, another day he blames Israel, and then he blames his critics and political opponents for everything that goes wrong in the Palestinian territories.
Abbas's supporters have defended him by claiming that he is facing a "big conspiracy" to remove him from power. Although it is true that as long as the Israelis are in the West Bank, Hamas will not be there, Abbas's supporters have even gone as far as making the ridiculous claim that Hamas and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman are working together to topple Abbas.
If Abbas really wanted to step down, he could have done so many years ago. But Abbas is interested only in one thing -- staying in power until his last day. His threats are only aimed at sending the following message to his followers: "If I go, the Palestinians will have no future."
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