Abbas under fire

The PA president's inability to control events in east Jerusalem is under attack from all fronts.

December 10, 2014 21:04
3 minute read.
Mahmoud Abbas

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (L) stands with South Africa's President Jacob Zuma at the Union Building in Pretoria November 26, 2014.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

I wonder if Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has been getting any sleep over the past few months. His inability to control events in east Jerusalem is under attack from all sides – not only from Israel and the Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza, but from the Arab nations as well.

It seems that he himself can’t understand how he managed to create a situation in which he denounced the terrorist attack on the synagogue in Har Nof in Jerusalem while the Jordanian prime minister, Abdullah Ensur, sent condolences to the members of the abu-Jamal family living in Jordan, who are relatives of the terrorists that perpetrated the attack.

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Abbas has never had any control in east Jerusalem, because, as he knows only too well, a majority of the Palestinians in the city would not want to live in a Palestinian state under his authority. As a result, Abbas relies on Fatah to maintain control of the resistance in east Jerusalem. Yet even as he relies on Fatah, Abbas revealed to his advisors in Ramallah that he is also under tremendous pressure from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi, who is demanding that he reconcile with his rival, Mohammed Dahlan.

Concerned that the West Bank might fall into the hands of Hamas, as happened in Gaza, Sisi seems to believe that Dahlan would serve as Abbas’ loyal right arm and help to squash Hamas in the West Bank. Abbas, Dahlan and Sisi have only one thing in common: their hatred of Hamas, and this would be the only factor that could bring them to create a coalition.

Abbas, meanwhile, has yet to respond to Sisi.

Two weeks ago, I was in Jordan on a Friday, and attended a large demonstration after the weekly prayers, protesting Israeli actions with regard to the Haram al-Sharif (the Temple Mount). Huge speakers mounted on flatbed trucks blared out the speeches to the crowd. While providing the usual condemnations of the Israeli occupation, prominent member of the Muslim Brotherhood movement Sheikh Hammam Said was even more critical of Abbas. It is Abbas, he accused, “who has dried up the armed struggle in the territories; it is Abbas who has stopped the fighters; it is Abbas who has confiscated their legitimate arms.” And then, as the crowd cheered and called out “Allahu Akbar,” he added that he hoped God would dry up the blood running in Abbas’ veins.

Adding to his woes, Abbas is unhappy and disappointed with the silence of the Arab and Muslim states regarding the events in east Jerusalem, while the Palestinians are furious that he has been unable to engage these countries in the struggle. True, on Saturday the Arab League will convene the foreign ministers of the Arab states to discuss the ostensible “escalation” in east Jerusalem – but it is a meaningless gesture, since, for years, the Arab League has been little more than a rehabilitation center for the handicapped Arab nations. And he didn’t fare very well with Knesset Minister Haneen Zoabi, either, who during the Protective Edge fighting this summer accused him of collaborating with the Israelis, because of the security coordination that he maintains with Israel.

I believe that Abbas wants the situation to calm down and that is why he is maintaining a low profile.

When meeting with Abbas earlier this month, King Abdullah of Jordan made it very clear that the continued unrest could undermine the status and legitimacy of the Palestinian Authority.

The writer is a human rights activist and a political analyst.

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