ישראל נאמן | Lectures, Articles, Tours: Israel | Mideast onTarget | Elliot Chodoff & Yisrael Ne'eman | 26.4.05 Abbas Must Choose

Abbas Must Choose

 26 April 2005

By Yisrael Ne'eman

Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) won the Palestinian Authority presidential elections with some two-thirds of the vote. Media hype attempts to pump up the victory as if it is a landslide in a democratic country, which it is not. Overall, the main opposition group, the Islamicists (Hamas and the Jihad) did not field a candidate, nor did Abu Mazen reach Yasir Arafat's heights of 88% (yes, he also ran against an unknown and without Islamicist participation). The predictable outcome of the election has no great value, even if the exercise grabbed laudable headlines in the western press.

Abbas is faced with choosing his final objective. Does he want to establish a Palestinian state or does he favor destroying Israel and establishing his state on its ruins. The first option entails looking forward to nation building, similar to what the Jewish People did in Israel while the second means a fateful decision to turn the clock back to 1947 (or beyond), before there was a Partition Plan and "two state solution." All strategies will be cut from the desired end result.

Arafat chose to destroy Israel, a decision hidden from those Israelis who supported Oslo and from the west until his Mukata'a archives were removed in the spring of 2002. Commencing with the Oslo signing in 1993 onwards, many began to doubt Arafat's intentions due to his calls for Holy War or Jihad, but conclusive proof was only extant once the documentation was captured.

Many speak of a "carrot and stick" approach and pressures. From the Palestinian initiated violence in Sept. 2000 and until his death, Arafat deflected all pressures by never losing track of his goal. All western and liberal Israeli approaches failed. Furthermore he paid no heed to the suffering he brought to his own people, whether it be financial or physical human. Palestinian casualties became the media card to pursue the de-legitimization of Israel, part of an overall strategy to destroy the Jewish State. Israel was to be destroyed regardless of cost.

Abbas is being offered carrots, such as an invitation to the White House, hundreds of millions of dollars in rehabilitation funds, European coddling and a meeting with Israeli PM Ariel Sharon to move the "peace process" forward. Many believe Abu Mazen has chosen the two state solution, but then the majority of Israelis and westerners thought the same about Arafat when Oslo was signed in 1993.

But there is a big difference this time and it is not because Yitzchak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Labor were in power a decade ago and today Sharon leads a Likud coalition. All Israelis have been through the Arafat period and are suspicious of all Palestinian partners. Words and diplomatic initiatives are not enough.

The newly approved, less than National Unity government demands an end of all Palestinian violence as a pre-requisite to bilateral discussions, as does the opposition. Every move by Abu Mazen will be scrutinized and unlike Arafat, interpreted for the worst by most Israelis. He can decide between a Palestinian state or to continue Yasser Arafat's legacy of violence and suffering.