This is how Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, threatened the Israelis. He said he plans to hand them the key to the West Bank following Israeli parliamentary elections as long as they reject the two-state solution. Therefore, they are to pay the price of occupation instead of charging him taxes as they are doing at the moment.
Now we expect Abbas to actually pass the West Bank to Israel and end the Oslo Accords he signed 20 years and based on which the Palestinian Authority was established.
What made him think of such a historically unprecedented initiative is the fact that the Palestinian Authority is both confident and frustrated.
Palestine finally got a seat at the United Nations as a non-member state, but this remains a symbolic victory. On the other hand, the Palestinian Authority is no longer capable of doing anything to better the conditions of the people it is responsible for in accordance with the Oslo Accords for it is living off international aid and the customs revenues Israel is supposed to pay.
The aid is no longer enough and Israel is withholding the customs revenues. In the meantime, the world is watching this extremely peculiar situation. The Palestinian project is in a state of political and financial bankruptcy and has reached a dead end owing to Israel’s intransigence about the two-state solution.
If Abu Mazen hands the key to Israel, the Israeli government will be legally responsible for managing and feeding two and a half million Palestinians. It will never be an easy mission and anti-occupation uprisings, which had stopped because of the presence of Palestinian police forces in the middle, are bound to resume.
‘Disbanding’ the Palestinian Authority
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Abu Mazen is threatening to disband the Palestinian Authority because he is losing on the ground in the West Bank while his rival Hamas is expanding. Yet, Netanyahu, who might remain prime minister after the elections, realizes that disbanding the Palestinian Authority would mean an international intervention because the agreement signed in 1993 was under the auspices of the United States. Therefore, both the United States and the international community should pay the price. However, Abbas needs to make sure that Hamas would not take advantage of the situation to seize power, maybe even in coordination with Israel like what is currently happening in Gaza where strikes are only launched when Hamas is incapable of controlling Salafi and Jihadist factions in the strip so that truce becomes the only way out.
Abbas is expected not to retract his threats last minutes in return for some empty promises because everyone is now waiting for the decisive moment. It is no longer the matter of paying the salaries of Palestinian Authority employees nor is it about getting more aid. Israel is now confident it can expand its settlements in the occupied territories as it pleases and nobody cares as long as the Palestinian Authority is immersed in the day-to-day problems of its citizens.
*This article was first published in Asharq Alawsat on Jan. 3, 2013. Link: http://www.aawsat.com/leader.asp?section=3&article=711521&issueno=12455
(Abdelrahman AlRashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq Al- Awsat where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq Al-Awsat’s sister publication, Al Majalla.
Throughout his career, AlRashed has interviewed several world-leaders whilst his articles provoked worldwide recognition and has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly-regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.)