President fails to understand that PA has no desire, ability to secure deal with Israel.
by Moshe Elad
The electoral defeat suffered by US President Barack Obama is not supposed to be connected to events in the Middle East. Seemingly, his downfall was a result of domestic policy failures. However, when examining Obama's relationship with Abbas and Netanyahu, it's hard not to conclude that on this front too, the US president can expect to lick some wounds.
Obama and his advisors fail to understand that that the Middle East crisis cannot be resolved with "Yes we can" slogans. Several previous presidents realized that the issue is complex, problematic, and beyond their abilities, thereby taking a step back. But not Obama. He will continue to exert pressure until he prompts a collapse, which would mean either a new flare-up, or escaping Palestinian Authority leaders.
What is misleading Obama and his people to such extent? Seemingly, the West Bank presents a positive, encouraging façade: Security calm for the most part, hundreds of projects being built on the ground, reduced unemployment, and a growth rate that hasn't been seen in years. However, all these optimistic indications, most of which are economic, are only the storefront.
Behind the Palestinian façade we discover a very grim picture of despair and frustration. On the one hand, the Palestinian Authority has neither the desire nor the ability to reach a historic compromise with Israel. On the other hand, the PA is having trouble withstanding the American and European pressure to implement such compromise.
Obama fails to understand that as long as Hamas breathes down Abbas' neck, the latter would not be able to realize America's objectives.
The name of the game in the territories is zeal. To our regret, at this time the zeal is not found among Abbas and his people, but rather, among Hamas members. We saw it already in the June 2007 events in Gaza. The PLO is perceived as satiated, corrupt and anachronistic, while the Palestinian public is eager for hungry, thin leadership with zeal, regardless of the ideology it represents. For example, should Ahmadinejad present a Palestinian alternative, even he could represent the Palestinians.
Obama and his people are pushing Abbas to stop the incitement against Israel. How exactly can this be done? After all, generations of incitement cannot be erased with mere declarations. Abbas himself does not believe in putting an end to incitement, as it would quickly prompt greater support for Hamas.
Israel to pay price
Very few Palestinians believe Abbas when he proposes, with US encouragement, the handover of areas under Israeli security control to the PA. Most Palestinians understand that the moment the IDF leaves any West Bank town, it may fall into the hands of Hamas, which will enlist the help of apolitical gangs.
Obama's gamble on Abbas as the Palestinian leader disregards not only his failure to control the Gaza Strip, but also his inability to fully control the West Bank. There are towns and villages in the West Bank that President Abbas, is afraid to go into – mostly traditional Hamas strongholds or areas controlled by gangs. This isn't a president – it’s an "exiled ruler."
A harsh debate emerged following the 'You have a partner' campaign, where Israeli elements presented PA leaders as friends of Israel. This campaign provoked great displeasure among residents of the territories and further eroded the PA’s status. 'How can you call for ongoing armed conflict against peace partners?' Abbas was asked by those who wanted to highlight the doublespeak custom he adopted, just like his predecessor Arafat.
Meanwhile, the sight of security personnel destroying settlement products prompted ridicule, at most, among many Palestinians. 'After all, there isn't one settlement in the West Bank that was not built by the Palestinians,' say those who object to these ostentatious moves, adding that 'some senior PA officials made their fortunes through 'banned trade with settlers, so who are you trying to fool here?'
The underground current simmering in the territories threatens to turn into a huge wave that would topple Abbas and his people. Some more pressure from Obama would see Abbas declaring 'let me die with Palestine.' And then, the American president will dispatch his spokesman to say: We tried, but it didn't work. We'll have to fix it.
In any case, Israel will be paying the price for it.
More Quotes About "Palestine"
"There is no such country as Palestine. 'Palestine' is a term the Zionists invented. There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria. 'Palestine' is alien to us. It is the Zionists who introduced it".
- Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, Syrian Arab leader to British Peel Commission, 1937 -
"There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not".
- Professor Philip Hitti, Arab historian, 1946 -
"It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but Southern Syria".
- Representant of Saudi Arabia at the United Nations, 1956 -
Concerning the Holy Land, the chairman of the Syrian Delegation at the Paris Peace Conference in February 1919 stated:
"The only Arab domination since the Conquest in 635 c.e. hardly lasted, as such, 22 years".
"There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent (valley of Jezreel, Galilea); not for thirty miles in either direction... One may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings. For the sort of solitude to make one dreary, come to Galilee... Nazareth is forlorn... Jericho lies a mouldering ruin... Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and humiliation... untenanted by any living creature... A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds... a silent, mournful expanse... a desolation... We never saw a human being on the whole route... Hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil had almost deserted the country... Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes... desolate and unlovely...".
- Mark Twain, "The Innocents Abroad", 1867 -
"In 1590 a 'simple English visitor' to Jerusalem wrote: 'Nothing there is to bescene but a little of the old walls, which is yet remayning and all the rest is grasse, mosse and weedes much like to a piece of rank or moist grounde'.".
- Gunner Edward Webbe, Palestine Exploration Fund,
Quarterly Statement, p. 86; de Haas, History, p. 338 -
"The land in Palestine is lacking in people to till its fertile soil".
- British archaeologist Thomas Shaw, mid-1700s -
"Palestine is a ruined and desolate land".
- Count Constantine François Volney, XVIII century French author and historian -
"The Arabs themselves cannot be considered but temporary residents. They pitched their tents in its grazing fields or built their places of refuge in its ruined cities. They created nothing in it. Since they were strangers to the land, they never became its masters. The desert wind that brought them hither could one day carry them away without their leaving behind them any sign of their passage through it".
- Comments by Christians concerning the Arabs in Palestine in the 1800s -
"Then we entered the hill district, and our path lay through the clattering bed of an ancient stream, whose brawling waters have rolled away into the past, along with the fierce and turbulent race who once inhabited these savage hills. There may have been cultivation here two thousand years ago. The mountains, or huge stony mounds environing this rough path, have level ridges all the way up to their summits; on these parallel ledges there is still some verdure and soil: when water flowed here, and the country was thronged with that extraordinary population, which, according to the Sacred Histories, was crowded into the region, these mountain steps may have been gardens and vineyards, such as we see now thriving along the hills of the Rhine. Now the district is quite deserted, and you ride among what seem to be so many petrified waterfalls. We saw no animals moving among the stony brakes; scarcely even a dozen little birds in the whole course of the ride".
- William Thackeray in "From Jaffa To Jerusalem", 1844 -
"The country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is of a body of population".
- James Finn, British Consul in 1857 -
"The area was underpopulated and remained economically stagnant until the arrival of the first Zionist pioneers in the 1880's, who came to rebuild the Jewish land. The country had remained "The Holy Land" in the religious and historic consciousness of mankind, which associated it with the Bible and the history of the Jewish people. Jewish development of the country also attracted large numbers of other immigrants - both Jewish and Arab. The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track suitable for transport by camels and carts... Houses were all of mud. No windows were anywhere to be seen... The plows used were of wood... The yields were very poor... The sanitary conditions in the village [Yabna] were horrible... Schools did not exist... The rate of infant mortality was very high... The western part, toward the sea, was almost a desert... The villages in this area were few and thinly populated. Many ruins of villages were scattered over the area, as owing to the prevalence of malaria, many villages were deserted by their inhabitants".
- The report of the British Royal Commission, 1913 -