Thursday, December 24, 2009

Interviews with Mahmoud Abbas/Abu Mazen of Palestine

Mahmoud Abbas gave an interview with Charles Levinson of the Wall Street Journal on December 20, and one with Ali El-Saleh and Nazer Majli of the Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat on December 22. In both interviews he talks about his options, that he refuses to discuss further, if elections are not held.
[Wall Street Journal]And if there are no elections, will you remain in power or will you resign?

This is an important point. I said that I will not run in the elections. I will exert all possible efforts to make sure there are elections. In the Egyptian brokered accord there is total agreement with all the factions that there should be elections on June 28. If tomorrow, Hamas signs this agreement, then there will be elections on June 28. There is no problem with holding elections. If there is no hope for any sort of elections, then I have other options. What are those other options? I'm not talking about them yet.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] By announcing that you will not be a candidate, you are throwing the burden on the shoulders of your possible alternative?

I am not throwing the burden on anybody's shoulders. I say that this person - me - who has dedicated his life to peace considers that the road is blocked. I have sat in this chair as president of the Palestinian Authority in order to bring about the Palestinian State, and now I see that I cannot achieve this state; what can I do? Should I remain in the chair? Politics is my hobby, but this does not mean that I am immature in politics. It is my hobby because I work in politics because I want to do so. I do not want to be a political leader, and to scheme and maneuver; I say what is in my mind, and you know that many people have been upset because of what I say.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] What are the other alternatives you talked about?

I will not tell you.

These are alternatives that I will not squander. It is up to me to decide when I want. I have said that I will not be a candidate; however, I have options or measures - not alternatives - which I will adopt when the time is right?
I guess his option means to declare a successor and step down. I'm not sure what power he thinks this option holds, but keeping it secret is a way to convince himself that he has some plan without the risk that the plan be laughed at and its holes pointed out if he says it out loud. Abbas, and also the Egyptians, Jordanians and Saudis from time to time convince themselves that they have secret plans that will accomplish some goal when it is unveiled. In real life, putting one's thinking before neutral and hostile audiences exposes problems earlier rather than later.

I found Abbas' ability to blame Hamas first, before even Israel for Israel's attacks on Gaza to be offensive.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Do you not think that the success of Hamas in releasing dozens of Palestinian prisoners, whose hands Israel claims to be "tarnished with Jewish blood," will be a victory for the resistance, because 16 years of peace negotiations, i.e. since the Oslo Accord in 1993, have failed in releasing any of them?

You should ask Israel about this. Moreover, we have paid the price of Shalit: 2,500 martyrs, houses destroyed, and more and more. We have not finished paying yet. I hold Hamas as the main responsible for this, and then Israel. For this reason, brother, let us put an end to this affair.
I wish his questioners had pinned him down further with followup questions about both a single state and protests against Israel. In both interviews he clumsily reaches for new subjects to discuss when those issues are raised.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] There are those who call for a single state?

We are not the ones calling for a single state. This is not our option. The Road Map includes three parts. The first part is commitments, and I have fulfilled all my commitments, but Israel has not fulfilled any of them. I am sure that they have not fulfilled anything at all. Therefore, the Israelis have abolished the first part of the Road Map. The third part talks about two states, and the end of occupation. They refuse. This means that the third part has disappeared. As for the second part, it talks about a state with interim borders as an option. I do not accept this. Therefore, what is the solution? Where do they want to take us? I will not take the road of violence. Drag us to where you want, but I will not return to violence.

[Wall Street Journal]You have encouraged recently Palestinians to boycott products made in the settlements, but many of your Palestinian critics would like to see you go further in leading a non-violent resistance movement against Israel. Do you support those who are calling for a broader boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel?

This is our right to boycott the settlements. The settlements are taking our land and selling the products to the world so we ask the world not to buy these products. These are our rights. The people of Bilin and Nilin go out and protest peacefully against the wall. I am with any peaceful protest that expresses the opinion of the people. I support this. But I am against the bullets and the rockets. We are asking every day the European countries and the world to stop buying these products and not to buy these products. But we never said boycott Israel. We never boycotted Israel. We have contacts with them every day. We buy from them electricity, water, and even the air. We buy air! They sell us air! Truly, the air. Cell phone frequencies. And they haggle with us over the air. 'We'll give 3.1 of air' they say, and we say 'no we want 3.8,' and they say 'no way you'll get .8 of air.' AIR!
I've heard Abbas' strategy, such as it is, described as "if we give them everything they ask, that will cause them to make concessions to us". The overarching sentiment in both interviews is Abbas' frustration that this strategy does not work. Abbas owes his career to support from Israel and the United States. Given that he serves at their discretion he is then forced to form a view of the world that is consistent with collaborating with them. By necessity, he severely misunderstands what Israel wants from the peace process.
(Erekat: The president is the owner of the negotiations with Israel, the owner of the Oslo Accord, and the owner of the peace camp in Romania and other issues. He is the one who educated us in the principle of the two states. Now there is Palestinian Authority, a government, and a Legislative Council. These have been established as institutions for the state. The president has reached the stage that says that Israel has imposed itself as a source of authority, and that he needs permission from it if he wanted to travel to Amman. This can continue for a hundred years. This is in addition to the continuation in Judaizing Jerusalem. All this has made him say that he does not want the presidency).
When Erekat says that the current situation could continue for 100 years, it is as if that is a bad thing. It is exactly what Israel wants and his ability and willingness to produce the exact outcome he decries is why he and Abbas are in power with Israel and the United States' support.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"I will not tell you"
God! if that wasn`t so pathetic it would almost be hilarious,you almost feel sorry for the guy,hes done everything the zionists and the us wanted and they still won`t give him anything,he and the old guard in fatah have effectivley given up the struggle and become the palestinian equivilent of the jewish police in the ghettos,and we all know what happened to them.I agree totally about the disgusting comments he made blaming hamas for israels rampage in gaza,and I think shows the vast gulf between fatah and hamas.Personally I think that at this point in time his options are severely limited,and thats being nice about it