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."
Comment on this item
by Khaled Abu Toameh
The "Arab Spring" did not erupt as a result of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Rather, it was the outcome of decades of tyranny and corruption in the Arab world. The Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans and Yemenis who removed their dictators from power did not do so because of the lack of a "two-state solution." This is the last thing they had in mind.
The thousands of Muslims who are volunteering to join the Islamic State [IS] are not doing so because they are frustrated with the lack of progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
The only solution the Islamic State believes in is a Sunni Islamic Caliphate where the surviving non-Muslims who are not massacred would be subject to sharia law.
What Kerry perhaps does not know is that the Islamic State is not interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at all. Unlike Kerry, Sunni scholars fully understand that the Islamic State has more to do with Islam and terrorism than with any other conflict.
by Steven J. Rosen
Palestinian officials have generally been silent about security cooperation with Israel. They are loath to acknowledge how important it is for the survival of the Palestinian Authority [PA], and fear that critics, especially Hamas, will consider it "collaboration with the enemy."
"You smuggle weapons, explosives and cash to the West Bank, not for the fight with Israel, but for a coup against the Palestinian Authority. The Israeli intelligence chief visited me two weeks ago and told me about the [Hamas] group they arrested that was planning for a coup... We have a national unity government and you are thinking about a coup against me." — Mahmoud Abbas, PA President, to Khaled Mashaal, Hamas leader.
According to Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, if the IDF leaves the West Bank, Hamas will take over, and other terrorists groups such as the Islamic Jihad, Al-Qaeda and Islamic State would operate there.
In recent months, Abbas has been making a series of threats against Israel. If Abbas becomes another Arafat, it could be the Israeli side that loses interest in security cooperation.
by Burak Bekdil
It was the Islamists who, since they came to power in the 2000s, have reaped the biggest political gains from the "Palestine-fetish."
But the Turkish rhetoric on "solidarity" with our Palestinian brothers often seems askew to how solidarity should be.
by Raheel Raza
One blogger writes that Malala hates Pakistan's military. I believe it is the other way around.
I would so like to see the day when Malala is welcomed back in Pakistan, with the whole country cheering.
by Francesco Sisci
Democratic evolution in China was being seriously considered. The failures of U.S. support for democracy in Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt and Libya gave new food for thought to those opposed to democracy. Lastly, the United States did not strongly oppose the anti-democratic coup d'état that overthrew a democratically elected government in Thailand.
On the other hand, Russia -- dominated by Vladimir Putin, a new autocrat determined to stifle democracy in Russia -- provided a new model.
The whole of Eastern Europe and most of Latin America, formerly in the clutches of dictatorships, are now efficient democracies. This seems to indicate that while democracy cannot be parachuted into a country, there is a broader, longer-term global trend toward democracy and that its growth depends on local conditions.
As economic development needed careful planning, political reforms need even greater planning. The question remains: is China preparing for these political reforms?