Abbas is not a peace partner, warns former high-ranking diplomat

Palestinian president has a history of jettisoning the peace process, when he feels like it, says president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs Dore Gold.

January 15, 2018 16:20
2 minute read.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas greets delegates after addressing the 72nd United Nations

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas greets delegates after addressing the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, US, September 20, 2017. . (photo credit: EDUARDO MUNOZ / REUTERS)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has disqualified himself as a serious peace partner unless he pulls back and changes the tone and content of his approach, former Foreign Ministry director-general and president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs Dore Gold told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

Gold, who has advised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on foreign policy for decades and remains close to him, reacted to a controversial speech by Abbas on Sunday in which he painted Israel as colonialist, ruled out any peace process as long as US President Donald Trump is in power and expressed hope that Trump’s “house” would be destroyed.

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“Abbas’s speech revealed that his narrative is extremely important to him,” Gold said. “It’s critical for Abbas’s strategy to characterize Israel as an apartheid state, to put Israeli history in the context of colonialism and to advancing boycotting, divesting, sanctions and other lawfare. These become the messages he wants to leave for Palestinian youth even after he goes, and this is extremely destructive.”

Gold lamented that Israel has complained for years about Palestinian incitement and that Abbas’s speech revealed that the source for the incitement has been Abbas himself.

But Gold said he saw a silver lining in the speech in that Abbas said he has faced pressure from Saudi Arabia to take a more positive approach and embrace the Trump administration’s parameters for reaching an agreement with Israel.

“That leaves Israelis with a sense that there are countries in the region we can work with,” Gold said. “Israel must take steps to ensure the involvement of any Middle Eastern state that seeks to reach a stable peace with Israel. We see a positive approach from Sunni states, and we can work with that even while Abbas is telling them to keep their noses out of it. We don’t need Abbas when he is renouncing the basis for the peace process.”

Gold, who negotiated with Abbas in the 1900s and a few years ago, said this was not the first time Abbas has jettisoned the peace process. He said Abbas also did near the end of former US president Barack Obama’s tenure, when Obama and former secretary of state John Kerry asked Abbas point-blank if he was willing to accept the same American diplomatic initiative that Netanyahu had accepted, even with reservations.

“Abbas said to Obama: ‘I’ll get back to you,’ and he never got back to him,” Gold said. “This is Act 2 of the same story of the Palestinians preventing a peace process and not the Israelis.”

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