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Abbas Threatens Something or Other

12:00 AM, Apr 16, 2012 • By ELLIOTT ABRAMS
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Abbas is in a very difficult corner, to be sure. While the "Arab Spring" is blossoming around him, he cannot hold elections (though his own term and the parliament's both ran out years ago) because Hamas won't allow them in Gaza, and Fatah can't be sure of winning them in the West Bank. He can't win a statehood resolution at the United Nations. He can't negotiate with Israel without demanding a construction freeze in settlements and Jerusalem (and he demands this again in his letter) because President Obama forced him into that position by calling it a precondition for talks.

Abbas can improve life in the West Bank, but seems to fear that would only benefit Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. And, to be fair to Abbas, if 'merely' ensuring that West Bank Palestinians live a better and freer life, with more jobs and fewer Israeli raids, has not been his central objective neither has it been that of the U.S. government.

The Abbas draft ends with this:

Should the Government of Israel refuse to honor these above-referenced obligations, we will seek the full and complete implementation of international law as it pertains to the powers and responsibilities of Israel as occupying power in all of the occupied Palestinian territory. For the Palestinian Authority—now stripped of all meaningful authority—cannot continue to honor agreements while Israel refuses to even acknowledge its commitments. The P.A. is no longer as was agreed and this situation cannot continue.

Come again? That sounds like a threat to dissolve the PA, but the Times of Israel also reports that he resolved not to do that.

"Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared his commitment to a strong Palestinian Authority (PA), rebutting an open letter by former Israeli minister Yossi Beilin that called on him to dissolve the PA. “Dissolving the PA is not so simple,” Abbas told journalists during an official visit to Japan Saturday. “The PA is an achievement and we must not dissolve it but strengthen it.”

So what does Abbas's threat mean? The best guess is that it means he's in a difficult corner and an angry letter seemed like a good idea at the time. For American officials anxiously watching Iran's nuclear program, the death toll in Syria, and the mess in Egypt, the Abbas letter will be just another reminder that the "peace process" is frozen solid.

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