Who Can Believe Mahmoud Abbas? by Bassam Tawil

  • As Hamas’s power increases, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and its security services are gradually losing their control of the West Bank.

  • Both the Israelis and the Palestinians know that if the PA falls, the best case scenario is that Hamas will take over the West Bank. The worst case scenario is a welcome mat for ISIS.

After Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas threatened yet again that he would end security coordination with Israel, not only has he not ended it, but — luckily for him, as it turned out — it is now stronger than ever. The Israelis, it seems, exposed two separate Hamas networks in the West Bank, both of them planning a mass-casualty attack on Israel and the destruction of the rule of Mahmoud Abbas.

Mahmoud Abbas’s other threat, that he will dissolve the Palestinian Authority (PA), and force Israel to fill the resulting vacuum and incorporate its residents and territories into Israel, also turned out to be cow plop.

Both the Israelis and the Palestinians know that if the Palestinian Authority falls, the best case scenario is that Hamas will take over the West Bank, and the worst case scenario is a welcome mat for ISIS. The West Bank will either turn into an Islamic emirate, like the Gaza Strip, or another ISIS province. In both cases, whatever “achievements” the Palestinian Authority has made will be gone forever. The entire Palestinian national consensus government, including Mahmoud Abbas and his cronies, will be executed before the day is out and all the property they have amassed over the years will be distributed as spoils to the victor.

Mahmoud Abbas is fully aware that the last thing the West wants is yet another Islamic emirate. Many inhabitants of the West Bank are also fearful of falling victim to the Islamic religious fanatics who will set them fourteen hundred years back.

Distressingly, as Hamas’s power increases, the Palestinian Authority and its security services are gradually losing their control of the West Bank. In addition, the rumors that Mahmoud Abbas is ailing and on his way out only serve to accelerate the collapse of the PA.

The Israeli government has also been discussing the possibility of the Palestinian Authority’s collapse. We can hardly blame the Israelis for preparing themselves when it is we the Palestinians who are telling them this.

In reality, Mahmoud Abbas has been trying to signal that the rumors of his leaving the political stage (illness and a reported hospitalization in Jordan) and the collapse of the Palestinian Authority were premature. Mahmoud Abbas wants the regional and international media to know he will remain president, and that the PA will remain standing “even if soldiers invade it,” as he said.

According to Mahmoud Abbas, the very fact of the Palestinian Authority’s existence is an achievement for the Palestinian people. It is clear now that the Palestinian threats were baseless. Now even the Israelis don’t have to worry about the empty threats of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is trying to force the Israelis to give up their security demands. Given the situation, we Palestinians will have to stop telling Israel and the West one thing while we tell each other something else.

The wordplay, sophistry and anti-Israel incitement of Mahmoud Abbas continue, even as we watch Hamas establish hostile cell after hostile cell in the West Bank.

Mahmoud Abbas claimed yet again that security coordination with Israel might end because “we cannot continue to be bound by these agreements … the status quo cannot continue,” but if he makes good on his threats, he will probably be dead or exiled by Hamas within 24 hours. Worse, he is creating a situation in which no one takes either the Palestinians’s threats or their claims of wanting peace seriously.

How can Abbas expect the Israelis or anyone else to take his protestations of peace seriously, when everyone can see what took place Gaza Strip once it was cleared of Israelis? It is a Petri dish for terrorist groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, ISIS and now Iran’s Al-Sabireen (“The Patient Ones”).

How can anyone take Abbas’s protestations of peace seriously when he calls the knife-stabbers, shooters and car-rammers “peaceful demonstrators”? He embarrasses us. How can anyone believe a Palestinian leader who gives a speech about peace and praises the Palestinian “martyrs” (killed while trying to murder Jewish grandmothers and storekeepers), sends wishes for a speedy recovery to wounded attackers, and praises and glorifies Palestinian murderers?

Sadly, Mahmoud Abbas is still living in a dream world. He remembers the Arab countries that were unconditionally willing to sign peace treaties with Israel, and the so-called Saudi Initiative. In his bubble, he does not want to know that Israel is now the last thing on their minds. The Arab and Muslim countries, as they have always done, only invoke “the Palestinians” to relieve internal pressure exerted by their civilians. Abbas may not realize that that Syria is, essentially, a thing of the past. He may not see that if Israel had agreed to the Saudi Initiative, ISIS would have taken the Golan Heights and be making its way to both Israel and his West Bank. Saudi Arabia, fighting for its life against the double threat of Iran and plummeting oil prices, does not have time for the Palestinian Authority’s games.

It is time for Abbas to realize that the heads of the EU and the hypocritical European states, such as Sweden and its dupable foreign minister, are fooling him into believing that Israel is about to depart.

Eighty-year-old Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is regularly fêted and flattered by Western leaders such as France’s President François Hollande (left) and top European Union officials like Federica Mogherini and Jean-Claude Juncker (right).

Bassam Tawil is a scholar based in the Middle East.

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