Last week Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas cut short a visit to
Switzerland and returned to Ramallah to follow the new round of fighting between
Israel and Hamas.
But ever since his arrival in Ramallah, he has not been
able to do anything other than deliver televised speeches and dispatch a top
Fatah official to the Gaza Strip.
Abbas’s call for holding an emergency
Arab summit to discuss the Israeli “aggression” on the Gaza Strip seems to have
fallen on deaf ears.
His call to the international community to halt the
IDF offensive also seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
The leaders of
Egypt, Qatar and Turkey, who met in Cairo earlier this week to discuss ways of
ending the violence, did not even bother to invite him to the
Instead, they invited leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad to the
Egyptian capital as part of their effort to achieve a cease-fire.
his prison cell in Israel, jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti called on Abbas
on Monday to head immediately to the Gaza Strip to show solidarity with its
But Abbas, whom Hamas kicked out of Gaza in 2007, chose to
ignore Barghouti’s call. And he has good reasons to stay away from the Gaza
Hamas leaders have repeatedly stated over the past few years that
they will not permit Abbas to return to Gaza unless he abandons the peace
process with Israel and stops arresting supporters of the Islamist movement in
the West Bank.
Mahmoud Zahar, a senior Hamas leader, said recently that
the biggest threat to Abbas, if and when he decided to visit the Gaza Strip,
would not come from Hamas, but from disgruntled Fatah activists affiliated with
the faction’s former security commander Muhammad Dahlan.
Visits to the
Gaza Strip by the Egyptian prime minister, Tunisian foreign minister and Arab
League secretary-general are another sign of how Abbas has become
The Arab delegations visiting the Gaza Strip see no reason
they should talk to Abbas or visit him in his Ramallah office. As far as they
are concerned, Abbas has no role to play in the current crisis, especially
considering that he has no control over the 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza
Abbas is now desperately trying to show the world that he is still
relevant and can play a role in ending the bloodshed. Over the past few days, he
has sought to create the impression that he is deeply involved in mediation
efforts to achieve a cease-fire.
The confrontation between Israel and
Hamas has also seen him adopt a tougher line against the former and a softer
approach toward the latter.
In his speeches, the PA president has used
harsh words to condemn the IDF operation in the Gaza Strip, holding Israel fully
responsible for the outbreak of violence.
He has also instructed his
security forces to allow Hamas supporters and other Palestinians to stage large
demonstrations in the West Bank in support of the Islamic movement. Until last
week, Hamas flags had not been seen in the streets of Ramallah.
same time, he has refrained from criticizing Hamas – as he has done in the past
– for firing rockets and missiles at Israel. He has also used the IDF offensive
to renew his call for ending the dispute between his Fatah faction and
This call has also fallen on deaf ears.
undoubtedly emerge as the biggest loser from the current conflict.