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October 21, 2014 / 27 Tishri, 5775
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PA Strategy After the Peace Process


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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is now preparing for the day after the formal death of the peace process.

Abbas is conducting negotiations with three different parties simultaneously: Israel, Hamas and the international community.

His policy now is to shoot in all directions in the hope of hitting as many birds as possible. This strategy, however, has so far failed to score significant gains.

The negotiations Abbas is conducting with Hamas are intended to create a joint Palestinian strategy in the aftermath of the failure of the peace process with Israel.

Abbas is hoping that Hamas will endorse his plan for a popular and non-violent intifada against Israel that would win the backing of the international community.

He also wants various international bodies to impose economic and political sanctions on Israel as a way of forcing the Israeli government to accept his demands, which are, above all, a full withdrawal from the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.

The Palestinian Authority wants to see an “Arab Spring” in the West Bank and Gaza Strip against Israel. It would like to see tens of thousands of Palestinians launch mass protests against Israeli soldiers and settlers.

Abbas does not want to see suicide bombings and other forms of terror attacks against Israel: he believes they are counterproductive and do not help the Palestinians achieve their goals, especially the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital and the “right of return” for refugees — who, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, now number nearly five million, or approximately the entire Jewish population of Israel — to their original homes inside Israel.

But Abbas’s plan has so far won the support of only a few Hamas leaders, particularly those based in Syria.

Most of the Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip are strongly opposed to the idea of a popular intifada and insist on pursuing the “armed struggle” against Israel.

Abbas’s representatives are talking with Israelis in Jordan about the possibility of resuming direct negotiations between the two sides, the Palestinians and Israel. The talks in Amman seem to be going nowhere as Abbas continues to stick to his demand that the very matters to be negotiated instead be handed over up front, such as that Israel freeze settlement construction and accept the pre-1967 lines as the future borders of a Palestinian state. Abbas has said he wants the Israeli government to stop all construction in the settlements and Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem, and to have Israel recognize the 1967 “borders” as the basis for a two-state solution.

In other words, Abbas is saying that Israeli refusal to comply with his demands is what is hindering the resumption of the peace negotiations.

Palestinian officials in Ramallah say they agreed to go to the Amman talks mainly because of pressure from the Jordanians, Americans and some Europeans. After three meetings, the Palestinians are already talking about the “failure” of the talks in Jordan due to Israeli “intransigence.”

The Palestinian Authority is also saying that it cannot accept any Israeli presence along the border between the West Bank and Jordan. Nor is it willing to accept the idea of having settlement blocs in the West Bank.

The gap between Israel and the Palestinians remains as wide as ever, which why neither side has illusions about the prospects of resuming the peace process. The two parties are also aware that there is almost nothing the Obama Administration can do months before a US presidential election.

While Abbas is talking to Israel and Hamas separately, he is also pursuing his efforts with the international community in a bid to impose a unilateral solution on Israel.

Abbas is still threatening to resume his efforts unilaterally to achieve Palestinian membership in the UN.

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First posted at the Stonegate Institute

About the Author: Khaled Abu Toameh, an Arab Muslim, is a veteran award-winning journalist who has been covering Palestinian affairs for nearly three decades.


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