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When Abbas lauds Trump, he is trying to deflect his own accountability

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivers a speech during the opening ceremony of the 29th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 3 July, 2017 [Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency]
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivers a speech during the opening ceremony of the 29th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 3 July, 2017 [Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency]

In his address to the African Union's 29th Summit in Addis Ababa, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gave an example of how to engage in double standards that are mostly ignored. He was thus allowed to have a negative impact on Palestinian prospects for autonomy.

Wafa news agency reported that, during the speech, Abbas stated, "We are waiting for Israel to respond to the initiative of [US President Donald] Trump for a historic peace deal based on a two-state solution." Abbas also elaborated that Trump's "early interest in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict gave [the PA leader] hope." Never mind the gaps in the narrative that Abbas is fond of propagating, including the fact that Trump's so-called initiative remains unexplained and that a peace deal based upon the two-state compromise will only be considered historic in terms of Palestinian loss. Abbas seems to have embarked upon selective memory processing; there is no mention of those months in which moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was considered a Trump priority, which prompted the PA leader to grovel to the international community. Trump is now considered, according to a report by Ma'an news agency, "a beacon of hope" for peace prospects.

This "beacon" is exerting the utmost effort to silence Palestine at the UN through his staunchly pro-Israel ambassador Nikki Haley, yet Abbas, as in previous years, is refusing to prioritise Palestinian demands. He prefers an extreme form of subjugation which allows the entire international community to decide matters on behalf of Palestine and Palestinians, with the starting point being the colonial demands imposed by Israel.

Read:Trump reportedly considering pulling out of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks

Abbas also requested African countries to condition their diplomatic relations with Israel upon the latter ending "the occupation". According to Wafa, Abbas declared that such ties with Israel will "encourage it to continue with its arrogance and occupation of Palestine as well as its denial of Palestinian rights for freedom, sovereignty and independence."

While the observation is precise, the same discourse can be applied to the PA and its collaboration with Israel, which makes the dynamic far more treacherous than that of the African continent which has still not recovered from its own plunder at the hands of Western colonialism. The PA's security coordination with Israel – the major basis of which is the incarceration of Palestinians involved in resistance to the occupation — was not so long ago described as "sacred" by Abbas.

The latest measures aimed at weakening Hamas and exacerbating the already dire humanitarian situation in Gaza also strengthens Israel against all Palestinians. Encouraging a fragmented identity between the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank also plays into maintaining "the occupation" which Abbas and the international community are fond of using as partial reference to the repercussions inflicted upon Palestinians as a result of Israel's existence and colonial expansion.


The impunity shielding Abbas at the moment is unprecedented, allowing the PA to deflect criticism as well as have the opportunity to burden other countries with the responsibility of ending Israel's military occupation. Yet, the opposite of this façade is equally evident. In the end, whether or not the alleged "historic peace deal" is achieved, the PA will, without doubt, bear a specific accountability for holding Palestinians hostage for a sliver of political power which only exists because Israel and the international community have allowed it.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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