by Khaled Abu Toameh
They are worried that Iran has stolen the limelight. Instead of wasting his time writing letters, Abbas should return to the negotiating table with Israel immediately and unconditionally. Gimmicks and tricks will not help advance the cause or interests of the Palestinian people.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas deserves an award for being the best master of gimmicks in the Middle East.
After his failed statehood bid at the UN Security Council and his unsuccessful attempts to end the power struggle between his Fatah faction and Hamas, the 76-year old Abbas has resorted to his old habit of issuing empty threats.
Abbas's most recent threat, his aides said this week, was to send the "mother of all letters" to the Israeli government regarding the stalled peace process.
Abbas's explosive letter will hold Israel alone responsible for the failure of the peace process, mainly because of its refusal to halt construction in the settlements and accept the pre-1967 lines as the borders of a future Palestinian state, the aides revealed.
They added that the president was busy these days writing the "mother of all letters," which will be sent to the Americans and Europeans before it is delivered to the Israeli government.
By describing the letter as the "mother of all letters," Abbas and his aides are hoping to create drama and suspension over the stalled peace talks with Israel.
The Palestinian leadership is hoping that the sensation surrounding Abbas's letter will shift worldwide attention back to the Israeli-Arab conflict.
They are worried that Iran has stolen the limelight from the Palestinian issue; they are therefore trying to win back the attention of the world.
Abbas and his representatives expressed that concern this week after hearing the speech of US President Barack Obama before AIPAC's annual gathering in Washington.
Noting that the speech had completely ignored the Palestinian issue, Palestinian officials in Ramallah voiced "deep disappointment" with Obama.
On March 7, Abbas convened yet another urgent meeting of PLO and Fatah leaders in Ramallah to discuss the content of this "mother of all letters" which he intends to send to Israel. The meeting, which came less than 48 hours after Obama's speech, reflected the increased concern of the Palestinians over the world's fading attention to their problems.
Nevertheless, no one in Ramallah is expecting Abbas's dramatic letter to contain anything new.
The most extreme scenario would be a threat by Abbas to dismantle the Palestinian Authority and submit his resignation.
It would be hard to find one Palestinian who would be surprised if Abbas's letter included such a threat, particularly in light of the fact that the Palestinian president has talked about stepping down and dissolving the Palestinian Authority on numerous occasions in the past.
Some Palestinians are already referring to the "mother of all letters" as another one of Abbas's "gimmicks". "The Israelis must be preparing the shelters because they are so scared of Abbas's letter," a Palestinian political analyst remarked sarcastically. "Many people have become used to Abbas's gimmicks and empty threats."
Instead of wasting his time on writing the "mother of all letters," Abbas should return to the negotiating table with Israel immediately and unconditionally to ensure a better future for his people. Gimmicks and tricks will not help advance the cause or interests of the Palestinians.Khaled Abu Toameh
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