Despite the rhetoric of the chattering classes and the endless flirtations with the media it is becoming more evident that Palestinian Authority Head Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) does not want an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank. If he did he would have called Israel’s bluff a long time ago – dropped the request for the right of return and removed the delegitimization campaigns directed against Israel that dominate the PA’s news outlets and education system (not to mention the all too common Jew hatred that is a regular feature of both). In doing so he would have painted any Israeli government (Likud, Kadima, Labour or Zionist Union) in the corner and presented the strongest case that the Palestinian’s have for workable nation state. This has not happened. In fact overtures by the so-called Israeli center (and indeed left of center) courtesy of the handiwork of the soft and mushy Ehuds (Barak and Olmert) were rejected when they could have provided a possible pathway toward statehood.
The problem Abbas faces is that if statehood ever came to fruition he would be forced to hold an election that he would most likely lose. At present he is in the 11th year of an increasingly badly labelled four year term (apologies to Douglas Adams). Hamas has the popular support and election losers don’t fare well in the Arab World.
Abbas will turn eighty this week so it is in his best interests to sit and ride it out.
He will do just that while at the same time bashing the Israelis from the sidelines (why not? its an international sport after all). He seems to have extricated himself from all pressure and in a world with a distorted moral calculus, it his most optimum approach. Sitting pretty makes sense and if that includes making no promises with respect to Netanyahu’s demands then so be it. Unlike Israeli leaders he faces less global scrutiny, has a sympathetic POTUS, European support and behind-the-scenes backing of some of the Arab elites (largely the Saudis) who are equally unenthused about Hamas taking power in the West Bank. Not a bad gig…where can one sign up?