by Dr. Reuven Berko
Facing internal instability and external indifference, Abbas is desperate.
Vertical flanking is one of the most daring military assault tactics. It involves using an aircraft's firepower and maneuverability to parachute soldiers and equipment deep behind enemy lines. In Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' case, his press briefing with Israeli reporters in Ramallah last week was an attempt at such a maneuver, which involved trying to convince Israeli and western ears of his "righteousness," while avoiding direct contact with the Israeli partner.
It was a familiar Palestinian ploy that blatantly ignored Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's repeated calls to Abbas to resume direct negotiations. Abbas' goal was simple -- to continue in his pursuit for unilateral international achievements and present the Israeli government as the one stalling the peace process.
Disappointingly, Abbas once again peddled his falsities: He opposes terrorism but supports "popular resistance" leaving the latter's interpretation to the youth on the streets; he supports the two-state solution, but will not recognize Israel as the Jewish state, alleging this demand has only ever been presented to the Palestinians, and not Egypt or Jordan, for example; and while he, personally, has relinquished the right of return, he claims he lacks the mandate to do so on behalf of the Palestinian people.
What value has such a powerless leader? Try telling the "fledgling" Palestinian leader that the ancient Jewish people do not need his recognition. All we seek is that, by way of recognizing the Jewish character of the State of Israel, he relinquish his dream to demographically destroy us via the "right of return" conspiracy.
The contradictions are too glaring for the world to ignore, and the international community is beginning to understand the situation: Abbas claims Israel is "racist" but insists on bringing back Palestinian "refugees"; he opposes incitement but says nothing when his clerics, senior officials in his government and his education system call for Israel's destruction, laud shahids and tout the need to "liberate Palestine"; and now he demands more prisoners be released, to join the terrorism festival.
Abbas warns of a religious war, then turns around and inflames tensions with rhetoric suggesting a "Jewish conspiracy to defile" Al-Aqsa mosque, and even claims Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state.
If, for example, Islam's holy cities Mecca and Medina were the capital of Saudi Arabia, then one could say Abbas' claim had a leg to stand on, given Al-Aqsa's status in Islam. But Jerusalem has only every served as the capital of one political entity -- Israel -- making Abbas' attempt to stake a claim to Jerusalem on behalf of the nonexistent state of Palestine utterly baseless.
The Palestinian leader further claims Palestinian "desperation" drives the wave of terrorism, not the Palestinian Authority's incitement or Islamic State's infectious teachings.
In the international arena, Abbas zigzags between euphoria and despair, as whatever unilateral achievements he has made against Israel are offset by the loss of interest in the Palestinian issue.
He understands that the world is preoccupied with the refugee problem in Europe and the Islamic State threat, and that the moderate Arab nations have their own survival to worry about and are secretly seeking ties with Israel. He is also beginning to understand that, practically speaking, it is time for a real dialogue, as Israel is undeterred by his threats to disband the Palestinian Authority, or launch a fresh round of hostilities.
The understanding that the Palestinian issue has been marginalized by more pressing global drama leads to the conclusion that it is Abbas who is desperate -- not the knife-wielding Palestinian terrorists. Abbas is wary of his Islamist opposition and hesitant to accept Netanyahu's call to engage in direct negotiations, while sending ambiguous messages to keep up appearances. This is what they call a dialogue of the deaf.
Dr. Reuven Berko
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