Entries Tagged as 'Mahmoud Abbas'

Abbas’ Palestine: No Jews Allowed

May 30th, 2011 at 11:53 pm 36 Comments

“So now here is the question” Netanyahu cleverly asked in his masterly address to the US Congress.  “If the benefits of peace with the Palestinians are so clear, sale why has peace eluded us?”  Netanyahu’s answer to his own rhetorical question was correct: the Palestinian leadership has always refused, and continues to refuse, to sign a peace agreement that entails the acceptance and permanence of the Jewish state, regardless of its borders.  Hence the PA’s rejection of the offers by Ehud Barack (in 2000) and by Ehud Olmert (in 2008) to establish a Palestinian state on virtually the entire West Bank and Gaza.  Arafat and Abbas said no, because they were asked to abandon the fantasy of invading Israel with the descendants of the 1948 Arab refugees, because they refused to recognize the Jewish past of the Temple Mount, and because they would not commit to ending the conflict after reaching statehood.

So then here is another question.  If Abbas refused to establish a Palestinian state within borders that were practically identical to the 1949 armistice lines, why would he accept to establish a Palestinian state on a smaller territory in order for Israel to have defensible borders?  Those who claim that Israel will eventually achieve peace by keeping offering the Palestinians what they’ve rejected many times are a lively example of Einstein’s definition of insanity (“doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”).  And those who expect the Palestinians to agree to a downgraded version of what they rejected in the past somehow reenact the famous spat between Winston Churchill and Lady Astor (“Winston, if you were my husband, I’d poison your tea … Nancy, if I were your husband, I would drink it”).

A standard answer to this question is that all Israel needs to do in order to achieve peace with the Palestinians is to withdraw to “the 1967 border.”  There never was such a border.  What existed between 1949 and 1967 was an armistice line specifically defined as “temporary” in the Rhodes Agreements upon Jordan’s insistence.  This line was not a border and never was meant to become one.  UN Security Council Resolution 242 was specifically worded so as not to convert the armistice line into a border.  There is no legal basis for “demanding” an Israeli withdrawal to the 1949 armistice line.  But besides legality, claiming that withdrawing to those lines will produce peace with the Palestinians defies logics.  There was no peace before 1967, so why would rewinding history back to 1967 bring a peace that didn’t exist then?

The reason why Israel was able to extract a peace agreement (though no real peace) from Sadat by withdrawing from Sinai is that all Sadat wanted was Sinai (and, incidentally, the American financial largess that came with it).  If all the Palestinians wanted were the West Bank and Gaza, the “rewind to 1967” formula would work with them as well.  But since what they want is all of Palestine, previous attempts to bring them to sign a peace agreement by settling for the pre-1967 setting have failed.  The PA teaches Palestinian children that Jaffa and Haifa will eventually be liberated from the Zionist invaders and that the only purpose of signing agreements with the infidels is to achieve the ultimate goal of “liberating” all of Palestine.  The message is getting through.  A poll conducted by Stanley Greenberg in November 2010 reveals that 60% of Palestinians see in the two-state solution a mere step to replace Israel with an exclusively Arab state.

The claim that the Palestinians have abandoned their goal of “liberating” all of Palestine ignores what they themselves keep saying (though, admittedly, in Arabic).  On May 28, Mahmud Abbas declared in Doha that he will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state, that he will never give up on the “right of return,” and that the future Palestinian state will be “clean” (or “empty,” depending on the translation) of any Israeli presence (including civilians).  In such a scenario, the State of Israel would lose its Jewish majority, while the Palestinian state will be “clean” of any Jew.  Jews would become a minority between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and they would be ruled by the Arab majority.  If Abbas is so clear about his true intentions, and if he is so explicit about them, why is it so hard to believe him?

What would the world’s reaction be if Netanyahu declared that the State of Israel should be “clean” of any Arab?  A two-state solution does not exclude the presence of minorities on both sides.  India was partitioned in 1947, but there are Muslims in India and Hindus in Pakistan.  This is what Netanyahu meant in his speech to Congress when he said that “in any real peace agreement that ends the conflict, some settlements will end up beyond Israel’s borders.”  Contrary to what The Economist mistakenly (or mischievously) wrote, this doesn’t mean that some Jewish towns would “by implication, have to be removed” (“You can’t make everyone happy,” The Economist, May 26).  It means that in a true peace there should be a Jewish minority in the Palestinian state, the same way that there is an Arab minority in the Jewish state.  Either the Palestinian state is willing to tolerate a Jewish minority with equal civil rights similar to the ones enjoyed by Arabs in the State of Israel, or it is committed to ethnic cleansing.  In that case, there should be a mutual population transfer, as suggested back in 1937 by the Peel Commission, between the two states.

Accepting the principle that there should be an Arab minority in the Jewish state but no Jewish minority in the Palestinian state would set an unprecedented double-standard; it would absolve the Palestinians for their intolerance towards minorities; and it would implicitly endorse the idea that the Arabs have stronger rights than the Jews over a land that both peoples claim to be theirs.


Abbas Wakes Up to Honor Killings

David Frum May 16th, 2011 at 10:36 am 18 Comments

As Palestinians attempt to invade Israel, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas suggests it may at last be time to punish men who murder their female relatives.

President Mahmoud Abbas has directed the judiciary to award the “utmost punishment” to perpetrators of honor killings, his secretary-general said Friday.

The announcement was made during a talk show on satellite channel Palestine TV to discuss the murder of 20-year-old Ayah Barad’iyya by her uncle.

Abbas’ secretary-general At-Tayyib Abdul-Rahim telephoned the presenter and announced on air that the president had ordered a legal amendment to end leniency in courts for men who kill to protect “family honor.”

Director of Ma’an Network’s TV department and women’s rights activist Nahid Abu T’eima participated in the talk show. She had been campaigning for an amendment to the law, and burst into tears on air when she heard the announcement.

“This is a historical accomplishment to amend the 1960 penal law which belongs to the dark ages. Ma’an News Agency’s coverage has helped amend that law which human right groups have been trying to change for 15 years,” said Abu T’eima. 

A live transmission from Surif village, where Ayah Barad’iyya was drowned by her uncle in April 2010, showed thousands of residents applauding the decision. Many also burst into tears.

The university student’s body was found earlier this month in a deserted well three kilometers from her home in Surif, over a year after she was killed.

Her uncle confessed to police that he had tied her up and drowned her, with the help of three friends, because he disapproved of a marriage proposal she had been offered. 

Some Jordanian laws passed between 1948 and 1967 still operate in the West Bank. A Jordanian penal code from 1960, which commutes sentences for men who kill or attack female relatives accused or suspected of “dishonoring” their families, has never been repealed by the Palestinian Legislative Council.

The PLC has been defunct since 2007 — following the internal Palestinian division — but rights groups have requested the penal code’s repeal by presidential decree. 

In 2009, Abbas promised to change the law by International Women’s Day in 2010, but the reforms were never made.

Maybe before launching attacks on its neighbors, the PA should complete the work of dragging its penal code into the 18th century?


Abbas’ Hardline Gamble Backfires

April 26th, 2011 at 7:10 am 3 Comments

In a recent interview with Newsweek, buy cialis Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he was betrayed by President Obama and George Mitchell, illness whom he now blames for the lack of progress in achieving Palestinian statehood. In truth however, cure Abbas has no one to blame but himself.

In the 24 April interview with Dan Ephron, Abbas says:

It was Obama who suggested a full settlement freeze. I said OK, I accept. We both went up the tree. After that, he came down with a ladder and he removed the ladder and said to me, jump.

Abbas also criticized Obama’s special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, saying:

Every visit by Mitchell, we talked to him and gave him some ideas. At the end we discovered that he didn’t convey any of these ideas to the Israelis.

The White House has vehemently denied the criticism of Mitchell, with the National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor saying: “of course he carried both parties’ ideas to each other all the time”.

Obama’s support for a settlement freeze in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) – which was dutifully observed by the Israelis – may have been naive and unduly inflated the Palestinians’ expectations. However, Obama pushed for the freeze in the vain hope that the PA would return to the negotiating table. Instead, Abbas obstinately refused to negotiate with the Israelis until the 11th hour, and even then, with a set of new preconditions, knowing full well that Netanyahu would not extend the freeze.

Abbas would therefore have an excuse to walk out on the talks and manipulate the media and public opinion by depicting Netanyahu as intransigent and the settlements as the main impediment to peace – which he has done to perfection.

In a separate Q & A related to the interview, Ephron put to Abbas that it was a mistake for him not to begin direct talks with Israel after Netanyahu declared the freeze, even though it wasn’t 100% to their satisfaction (the freeze did not apply to Jerusalem).

Asked by Ephron: “Obama had used all this political capital to get the Israelis to agree to something. It wasn’t a full moratorium but it was something”, Abbas replied:

What is that something? If it was a reasonable thing, we would accept. But they didn’t bring anything reasonable.

The settlement freeze was not “something?” Was not “reasonable?” The settlement freeze was an unprecedented concession by the Israelis, in which Netanyahu risked all his political capital. Never before had there been such a freeze, yet negotiations continued.  And now the Palestinians were getting a freeze in return for what? Not even a single concession was required from them in return. Yet still, they refused to talk and now they have the hide to blame Israel and Obama for lack of progress.

Abbas, like his predecessor Arafat, made a bet that rejecting peace talks with Israel – which he purposely set up to fail from the beginning by waiting until the last second to enter into – would result in greater pressure against the Israelis to make further concessions later.

Instead, Abbas’ misconceived strategy has weakened an American president, pushed Israelis to the right and emboldened Hamas. Moreover, it has made peace with Israel and the Palestinian dream of a state more elusive today than ever before. Abbas has only himself to blame for this.