Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has heard about the latest videotape by al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri, in which Zawahri calls Abbas a “traitor who is selling out Palestine,” and has gotten cold feet.
But even without the tape, Abbas can imagine what the Islamists have in store for him, and his threat to “give the keys to the Palestinian Authority back to Israel” reflects the overall air of doom and gloom shared by him and his people over the crisis plaguing the peace talks.
Until recently Abbas and his people were under the impression that they would be able to leverage the pressure applied by the United States and European Union regarding the peace talks against Israel. The illusion of free achievements was backed by the Israeli Left’s cries of gevald, fearing a “third intifada,” a “boycott,” or a “binational state.”
The anxiety over the “indispensable” Abbas’ resignation, which may saddle Israel with chaos across the Palestinian territories, has led the Palestinians to believe that they would be able to extort further concessions from Israel en route to a de facto Palestinian state, without making any concessions on their part, as the latter may be poorly perceived in the Palestinian, Arab and Islamic arena.
The latest round of peace talks has brought the Palestinians to a crossroads where a decision has to be made: they may have their state, but it would require of them to declare an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and recognize Israel as a Jewish state, which would spell the end for their demand for a right of return.
This imperative moment of truth has thrown the sly Palestinian strategy for a loop. As there is no way for the Palestinian Authority to “market” the concepts of the end of the conflict and recognizing Israel as a Jewish state to Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the angry descendants of the Palestinian refugees, Abbas has opted for zigzag policies and excuses — such as the stalled prisoners release — to avoid making any dramatic decision.
With the Americans’ help, the Palestinians have begun to gradually understand that Israel would never allow the return of the descendants of the refugees, or anyone else who seeks to see its demise. The fact that the Palestinians would have to take them into their own country, should one be formed, is perceived as existential disruption.
If the Palestinian state had any control over the Jordan Valley and its crossings, the situation would be exponentially worse, as Palestine would be flooded with terrorists from Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Those returning to it would undoubtedly demand a redistribution of resources, including some of the liberated lands, thus prompting land disputes, and Jihad warriors from Syria — backed by the local population — would impose Shariah, or Islamic law, on the area.
Once the rais (president) no longer shelters under the umbrella of Israel’s protection, the Islamists would reclaim the property stolen by Fatah and Abbas and his people would be hanged in the city square. The Islamists would then proceed to form a united Islamic emirate with Gaza Strip, the inception of which would take place against the backdrop of the terror groups’ fight for power, all while the mujahideen execute murderous terror attacks against Israel, provoking disastrous punitive measures on Israel’s part.
And at the ends of the day, it would be Israel that would be blamed, as usual, for the internal massacre across the Palestinian territories, as was the case with 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre in Lebanon.
The inception of a Palestinian state alongside Israel is a recipe for internal Palestinian disaster. The objective limitations of security and space would force Palestinian leaders to refuse the descendents of the refugees’ demand for a right of return. The Palestinians would be forced to conduct transparent fiscal policies, devoid of the assistance of the Arab world and the West; they would have to put an end to corruption and take actual responsibility for their citizens, as they would have no “occupation” to blame for their failures.
But Abbas does not want a Palestinian state alongside Israel — he wants one in its place. This is why he has decided to once again seek an alliance with Hamas — his partner in the ultimate goal. As far as Abbas is concerned, the vision of a Palestinian state alongside Israel is, in the words of the late author Gabriel García Marquez, a “chronicle of a death foretold.”