Israel not excited by Abbas threat to quit: 'Been there, done that'

Official says that the Palestinian diplomatic modus operandi is one of brinkmanship: refuse to negotiate, and then threaten different various “doomsday scenarios.”

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN,
September 1, 2015 18:39
3 minute read.
Mahmoud Abbas

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is photographed after speaking at the Egypt Economic Development Conference in Sharm el-Sheikh. (photo credit: BRIAN SNYDER / REUTERS)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has told Fatah leaders that he does not intend to present his candidacy once again for the position of chairman of the PLO Executive Committee, a senior Fatah official said on Tuesday.

Amin Maqboul, secretary- general of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council, said the party’s leaders unanimously rejected Abbas’s decision not to seek reelection and urged him to reconsider it, Maqboul said.

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Abbas’s announcement came two weeks ahead of a meeting of the PLO’s parliament- in-exile, the Palestinian National Council, to elect new members of the PLO Executive Committee.

Abbas and 10 other members of the Executive Committee are reported to have submitted their resignations in order to pave the way for the election of new members.

According to Maqboul, the 80-year-old Abbas told the Fatah leaders that his decision not to seek reelection was mainly because of his advanced age. Abbas also attributed his decision to “Israeli practices, the silence of the international community, lack of progress in the peace process and the internal affairs of the Palestinians,” Maqboul explained.

He quoted Abbas as saying that he was interested in seeing new faces in the PLO leadership.

Maqboul told the Palestinian daily Al-Quds that it was premature to tell whether Abbas was also planning to resign as president of the PA.

Abbas, who met with Jordan’s King Abdullah earlier this week in Amman, is reported to have expressed his intention to quit as president of the PA.

Jordanian sources quoted Abbas as saying that his decision to quit was linked to the stalemate in the peace process. The Jordanian monarch asked Abbas to display patience before taking any decision, the sources said.

Some Palestinian officials appealed to the Jordanians to intervene with Abbas to persuade him to abandon his intention to resign, according to the sources.

The London-based Al-Rai Al-Youm online newspaper quoted Abbas as telling Jordanian government officials that he felt that his legitimacy has been “worn out” and that it was time for him to leave the political fray.

Abbas was quoted as saying that he wanted to become an “ordinary citizen” and that he was tired of hearing that he is no longer a legitimate president because his term in office expired in January 2009.

“Abbas stressed that he was personally exhausted and wanted to spend more time with his family as an ordinary person,” the paper said.

“He wants to pave the way for the emergence of a new and young leadership.”

Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman expressed hope on Tuesday that Abbas would make good on his repeated threats to quit.

“Abbas is the biggest obstacle to a lasting diplomatic agreement and to coexistence between Israel and the Palestinian Authority,” Liberman said. “Abbas has threatened to quit countless times, but he is unfortunately still with us.”

One Israeli official responded to Abbas’s resignation threats by saying “Been there, done that.”

The Palestinian diplomatic modus operandi is one of brinkmanship: refuse to negotiate, and then threaten different various “doomsday scenarios” unless Israel agrees to their conditions for renewing negotiations, the official said. These scenarios typically include an Abbas resignation, renouncing the Oslo Accords, or dissolving the PA .

“We are not terribly excited by this threat,” the official said. “It is their standard negotiating procedure.”

The official deflected questions about what would happen if indeed Abbas went through with his threat, saying that this is a question that should be directed to the Palestinians.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking on Tuesday, voiced a desire to return to the negotiating table with Abbas In a meeting with representatives of an organization called Women Wage Peace that was established after Operation Protective Edge last summer, Netanyahu said that he had no conditions for renewing the talks and would “travel to Ramallah or anywhere else,” to meet and conduct negotiations without conditions.

“We want to conduct negotiations with the Palestinians,” he said. “The solution is two states for two peoples – a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the nation state of the Jewish people.”

The premier challenged the representatives of the group, if they meet Abbas, to ask him if he is prepared to meet the Israeli side.

Netanyahu was joined in the meeting by his envoy on the Palestinian issue, Yitzhak Molcho.



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