Assessing Abbas' Strategy

(Washington Post) Jackson Diehl - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed an agreement in Cairo with the Islamic Hamas movement, ruler of Gaza, that promised parliamentary and presidential elections within a year - i.e., by now. Needless to say, no Palestinian elections are on the horizon. Abbas published in the New York Times his intention to take the Palestinian case to the UN, where he would seek full membership from the Security Council or General Assembly, and last September duly launched his campaign. But neither the Security Council nor the General Assembly ever voted on the Palestinian case. In the Security Council, it turned out that the Palestinians lacked the votes to win even a simple majority. Last fall, Palestinians were urged to turn out for mass pro-statehood demonstrations. Abbas' aides made no secret of their hopes that a new popular intifada would erupt, a Palestinian version of the Arab Spring that, combined with the UN votes, would bring unprecedented pressure on Israel. Only nothing happened. There were a couple of West Bank demonstrations but no intifada. Abbas has repeatedly backed away from serious diplomacy, citing as an excuse Israeli settlement construction in Jerusalem and the West Bank - something that did not stop him from participating in negotiations with previous Israeli governments. Not for the first time, Mahmoud Abbas succeeded only in delaying Palestinian statehood - and weakening his own cause.

2012-04-20 00:00:00

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