September 30, 2007

Mahmoud the bold

h / t Elder of Ziyon

Lally Weymouth of the Washington Post - daughter of the late Katherine Graham - interviewed Mahmoud Abbas for the paper. The interview is here.

Elder of Ziyon is certainly correct that there's nothing "moderate" in the positions he espouses.

A comment at the site cites IMRA catching Abbas in a lie. (Or if you prefer to be polite an embellishment.) Abbas boasted that his security forces had captured two rockets aimed at Israel. IMRA thought cited an e-mail from Khaled abu Toameh that those weren't rockets but empty pipes.

So far the only other commenter on the article is Yaacov Lozowick who observes

So according to the Palestinian president, the 2nd Intifada was launched in response to an unprecedented offer by Israel's prime minister. It would have been legitimate to continue negotiating so as to achieve more - but that was not what happened.

Reading the interview it is impossible to get the feeling that Abbas is capable of much independent thought. He comes across as spoiled. (The world must support our demands, Israel must agree to our terms, Hamas must make nice to us.) He also is living in unreality. These Q & A's are precious:

Are there any concessions that you're willing to make in order to reach a deal with the Israelis? Are there any concessions you demand?

We will be flexible, but before 1947, we had 95 percent of Palestine. In 1937, the partition plan gave the Israelis only part of Palestine. And they were very happy at that time. [David] Ben-Gurion was very happy with it. It didn't work. After that [came] the 1947 partition plan -- we rejected this, so we lost.

You should have taken it?

Yes, at that time, of course. But it gave us 46 percent of Palestine. . . . Now, we accept [the pre-'67 borders].

So in other words, it is a concession that the PA is willing to forgo the 1947 partition plan. That ship sailed 60 years ago. There's no sense of shame, that since the Arab world rejected compromise 60 years they missed their chance.

The other part of the problem is "we had 95 percent of Palestine." Who is "we?" The areas now considered to be part of Palestine were sections of Jordan and Egypt at the time. Yes the untenable 1947 partition divided what was then Palestine into Jewish and Arab enclaves. But Gaza was part of Egypt and Judea and Samaria were parts of (Trans)Jordan - which itself was part of the British Mandate of Palestine. (And was Ben Gurion happy with the partition plan? Or was he willing to tolerate it in order to get a state?) "We" clearly does not refer to what Abbas (and the world) would now call "Palestinians."

And then there is this:

The Israelis thought they were doing a good thing when they withdrew from Gaza [in July 2005], but now they have been forced to evacuate a town near Gaza [because it has been repeatedly shelled by rockets from Hamas].

They did it unilaterally. They didn't do it bilaterally with us. We asked them many times to make [the Gaza withdrawal] the result of an agreement between us. But [former Israeli prime minister Ariel] Sharon refused. He didn't want to talk to us. . . .

OK, so what happened when Israel ceded territory under the terms of of a bilateral agreement? That happened in late 1995, when Israel ceded Tulkarem, Shechem (Nablus), Ramallah, Kalkilya, Bethlehem and Jenin to the Palestinian Authority. Starting in February 1996 Israel was struck with a series of suicide bombings that killed over 60 people and injured hundreds more. This violence didn't occur because Israel killed Yihye Ayyash or because Hamas was trying to "kill the peace process." It happened because Israel trusted its security to the PA. The PA, then under Arafat's leadership, had no interest in preventing terror or Hamas from developing a terror infrastructure. So Hamas took advantage of the opportunity, built its infrastructure while being protected by Arafat and struck at Israel when it could. What happened in Gaza is a repeat of that and of Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, which afforded Hezbollah a better platform from which to attack Israel.

The lesson isn't that unilateral won't work. The lesson is that giving territory to terrorists (or those committed to your destruction) strengthens them.

Finally there's this:

Your popularity has increased since you declared yourself independent of Hamas and set up a government in the West Bank. Does this show that when you make a bold move, people like it?

Yes, but if I make concessions which are unacceptable to the people, I think that I will not be popular anymore. But it is not a matter of popularity -- it's a matter of fairness.

"Bold?!" Read the whole interview. "Bold" doesn't describe Abbas. He has chutzpah no doubt. But the best description of him is "passive aggressive." This is not a man that any sane person would trust to ensure his interests.

And note, even here, he refuses to make "concessions which are unacceptable to the people." Has he even thought of using his position as leader to persuade the people of the necessity of making concessions? Instead he just pretends that not demanding the 1947 partition plan is a concession.

Abbas is weak. And I'm not just talking about his political position.

Israel Matzav has more thoughts:

I want you to try to understand Abu Mazen's basic argument, because it's not something western minds are used to confronting. When we used to play football in the schoolyard and one team scored a touchdown, the ruled always was "suckers walk." The team that gave up the touchdown had to retreat to the other end of the schoolyard to receive the ensuing kickoff. In Abu Mazen's world, the winner has to give up all its gains in order to appease the loser.

Crossposted on


Posted by SoccerDad at September 30, 2007 6:17 AM
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