Is Mahmoud Abbas serious?

It is difficult to know what to make of the President of The Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. He went to Washington at the invitation of President Obama, ostensibly to engage in direct peace talks with Israel.

Everyone understands that, if these talks are to get anywhere, compromises and concessions will have to be made by both parties. Indeed, Abbas has threatened to boycott the process should Israel recommence construction work over the 1947 Armistice line (Green line) following the termination of the current freeze on building due to expire at the end of this month.

There are good reasons why Prime Minister Netanyahu would be well advised to extend that freeze as a gesture of goodwill, even though such a course of action would inevitably place his current coalition government in jeopardy. That having been said, gestures have to be reciprocal.

President Abbas is reported in The Jerusalem Post this Tuesday as having stated that “If they (the Israeli negotiators) demand concessions on the rights of the refugees or the 1967 borders, I will quit. I can’t allow myself to make even one concession.”

If President Abbas cannot make any concessions, why did he go to Washington? Did he expect, on the basis of past experience, that President Obama would force Israel to make compromises while the Palestinians could sit back and reap the benefits?

Given our experience in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, Israel has every right to demand acceptable security arrangements as a condition for her withdrawal from the areas of the West Bank in which her forces continue to operate. Equally, Israel cannot be expected to absorb any more than a token number of the Palestinians who fled, or were forced out of their homes, over sixty years ago.

If President Abbas does not recognize that these are red line issues for Israel in negotiations that are intended to result in the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, it is difficult to understand what he thought the negotiations in Washington would be all about.

Micky Boyden

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5 Responses to Is Mahmoud Abbas serious?

  1. ravkarp says:

    Mickey,

    I agree with you entirely. Concessions are intrinsic to negotiations. Demands are not. Unless Abbas is willing to make concesssions, as well as demand them of Israel, then there is no peace process and there will be no Palestinian State.

    All that being said, we have to consider the possibility that Abbas’ statement was just a matter of posturing. Before we jump into the fray, writing the obituary of the peace process let us give the process a chance to either succeed or fail on its own. At the end of the day, it is not so much what folks like Abbas and Netanyahu say for the media as much as it is what they actually commit to during their meetings, and of course, which of those commitments they actual keep. That story will unfold at a very early stage. So let us exercise some patience.

  2. How many of your subscribers actually believe that Mahmoud Abbas is really serious about making peace with Israel? What has been the history of past Palestinian leaders when they have met with a US president,to talk about peace with Israel? Their record is like a losing American football team,with a history of losses. It has been the nature of Muslims to talk peace when it is to their advantage to talk peace,but,as soon as your back is turned,you’re pulling the daggers out of your back. I keep seeing younger generations of Jewish believers & American Christians,playing the same phonograph record over & over. The record is full of scratches & caught in the same grooves.

  3. Lonnie, it isn’t about MUSLIMS per se. Muslims in Egypt and Jordan have made peace with Israel. Muslims in Azerbaijan are allied with Israel. Even though Israel is having problems with Turkey NOW, it has had 50+ years of good relations and looks forward to improved relations after upcoming elections in Turkey. It isn’t about MUSLIMS. It is about radical Muslims who seek to create a modern Caliphate.

  4. FYI Some comments have been received that we will not post, such as references to Jesus as the Jewish messiah or ones demeaning those of any faith. We value the friendship for Jews and for Israel from those of all faiths.

  5. ravkarp says:

    I commend you, David, for striving to keep the dialogue on this blog civil. As Jews, we should be the last ones on earth to paint all the members of any one religion or nationality or ethnicity or race with a broad brush of prejudice. For too much of our history, that is precisely what others have done to us – and some still do to us. We may not hold the same theological tenets of other people, and may not hold the same political views of others as well, but we must respect their right to hold their beliefs and views as being as sacred to them as ours are to us. RESPECTFUL DISAGREEMENT is the name of the game.

    Shanah Tovah to all the Jewish readers of this blog!

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