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Lieberman: Abbas is the problem

The Palestinian cause is no longer a major headline, but it is ongoing and remains the source of unrest in the region

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Published: Updated:

The Palestinian cause is no longer a major headline, but it is ongoing and remains the source of unrest in the region.

In Israel and ever since Ehud Barack left the post of the premiership 13 years ago, there has been competition over electing the most extremist of Israeli officials such as Benjamin Netanyahu who is still prime minister to this day. Every time a new government is elected, we see more extremist Jews rise to prominence.

Israelis’ intransigence may be due to their feeling that there is no longer any need for a peace agreement. They may also feel that the threat posed by their neighbors is no longer grave due to the region being dragged into in-fighting since the rise of al-Qaeda, the war on Iraq and the world’s current preoccupation with the repercussions of civil wars and the growth of new terrorist organizations.

Extremist political demands

Extremist political demands in the Jewish state have increased amid this apparent feeling of security and amid the world’s loss of interest in securing a political solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The most recent example is Foreign Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s demand to get rid of Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority.

According to Lieberman, Abbas is the problem and he’s demanding his elimination from political life

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

He said that Abbas is "leading diplomatic terrorism" against Israel, and he has to be removed from the political scene. Lieberman means that Abbas’ act of resorting to the U.N. Security Council and his current attempt to secure Palestine membership at the International Criminal Court are terrorist measures! Why was Hamas in Gaza criticized when it defended the terrorist attack in Paris and forced to retract its statement and issue one of condemnation while Lieberman is not held accountable for his belligerent statements?

Truth be told, Abbas is to blame - not for his actions but rather for the delay in his actions and for not acting politically to confront Israel during the many years he has been president. What he’s currently doing is good and legal, and it compensates for the past years of passivity.

According to Lieberman, Abbas is the problem, and he’s demanding his elimination from political life. We know that the Israeli foreign affairs minister cannot appoint Ramallah’s government but he can assassinate or restrain Abbas. In both cases, he’ll increase the popularity of the Palestinian president and will once again bring the semi-forgotten case into the spotlight.

Blaming the American government

We blame the American government for not pressuring the Israeli government which continues to steal territory in extremely volatile political areas, like east Jerusalem, and continues to protect Jewish armed settlers in the West Bank - settlers who will once again push the area towards an escalated situation. Although we know that the White House is preoccupied with fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al-Qaeda, neglecting a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will bring more disasters to the region in the future.

If the American government had spent time and effort to force the Israeli government to respect previously signed agreements, like Oslo, it could have been easier for everybody to cooperate across the region.

The problem is that the U.S.- sponsored agreements, which Israel failed to respect by resuming the confiscation of land and the establishment of settlements, show that the U.S. was a mere false witness. This indicates that the U.S. does not respect any of its commitments. If the White House remains silent over Israel’s act of freezing Palestinian tax funds to punish the Palestinian Authority for resorting to international organizations, this will be tantamount to encouraging the Palestinians to resort to violence as it will seem as though heading to legitimate international organizations is a punishable act!

We cannot expect millions of Arabs and Muslims across the world to watch the establishment of more settlements and the persecution of Palestinians go unabated. We cannot expect millions of Arabs and Muslims to watch as Israel goes undeterred, despite its violation of international agreements, while it blames the Palestinians for refusing to abide by international regulations. This old issue has become a source of tension - even if it is not mentioned in Syria’s war or ISIS battles or Iraq’s. The issue leads many to develop a general sense of rejection toward anything that is described as international legitimacy as long as it is applied only in selected cases.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on January 15, 2015.

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Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former 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, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.