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Is Abbas serving the Palestinians or fooling them?

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the Palestinian leadership at his compound in the West Bank [Issam Rimawi/Apaimages]

Earlier this month, the Palestinian Authority announced that it would start preparing a plan for full disengagement from the Israeli occupation. The decision was taken by the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, which held a three-hour meeting chaired by PA and Fatah President Mahmoud Abbas in his headquarters in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.

The plan was approved unanimously by the Executive Committee, which is dominated by Abbas loyalists, and covers the political, administrative, economic and security levels. When the PA government, led by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah — an Abbas man, of course — announced the plan, it added that it would ask a committee to study the possibility of replacing the Israeli shekel with a Palestinian currency.

In fact, the PA’s full disengagement from the Israeli occupation is needed badly, but it would not be effective on the ground because the Israelis control everything related to daily life across the occupied territories. What’s more, the PA has restricted itself through several agreements signed with the occupation authorities, such as the Paris Economic Protocol.

The announcements did not actually reflect anything which suggests that Abbas is really planning to change his deep-rooted policy of dealing with the Israeli occupation, which is built upon what he has called “sacred” security cooperation. Given that the Palestinian cause is passing through a critical phase, and the peace process has failed to achieve anything, Abbas is obviously just trying to keep public opinion on his side.

Read: PA has to cancel punitive measures on Gaza or quit, insists Hamas

There is a lot of evidence to demonstrate that this is the case, not least the fact that meetings between PA and Israeli officials are still held as a matter of routine. Furthermore, cooperation between the PA security services and their Israeli counterparts is ongoing, and Palestinians resisting the occupation — as is their legal right — are still being detained by the PA acting on behalf of the Israelis.

Last Thursday, Economic Ministers Eli Cohen from Israel and the PA’s Abeer Odeh met in the Élysée Palace in Paris, allegedly to discuss obstacles to economic growth in the Palestinian territories. Cohen, though, let slip that such a meeting had security and political purposes.

This meeting came just one day after a high profile get-together by Hamdallah and Major-General Yoav Mordechai, Israel’s Government Activities Coordinator in the [Occupied Palestinian] Territories. The meeting took place at the Prime Minister’s office in Ramallah. According to UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov, who attended the meeting, “All sides focused on the urgent need to finalise the reconstruction of physical damage from the 2014 Gaza conflict and on facilitating critical humanitarian solutions related to the electricity, water and health sectors.”

Mahmoud Abbas turns a blind eye on Gaza's blockade - Cartoon [Latuff/MiddleEastMonitor]

Mahmoud Abbas turns a blind eye on Gaza’s blockade – Cartoon [Latuff/MiddleEastMonitor]

However, if this was the real reason for the meeting, it would have had some effect on the ground. Dozens of similar meetings have done nothing for Gaza or the Palestinians. Hamdallah told the media twice in the past week that there would be no solutions for Gaza’s crises without the full handover of government offices in the enclave. Is he unaware that all of his council ministers have travelled to Gaza and taken control of their offices properly, something that the media has witnessed and broadcast to the world?

Gaza was not the issue in Hamdallah’s meeting with Mordechai, because the Israeli Major General made it very clear that there was another objective. He stressed the importance of recovering the Israeli soldiers still missing in the Gaza Strip.

As far as security cooperation is concerned, Abbas himself called Israeli opposition leader Zehava Gal-On at the end of last month and stressed to her that it would continue. Gal-On wrote this on Facebook and Abbas did not deny it.

Speaking to Al-Jazeera, former Palestinian negotiator Diana Buttu said that, “Despite a decision by the PLO Security Council to end the cooperation, he [Abbas] is still holding on to the very essence of Oslo, which is security collaboration.”


Regarding Abbas and his war against the Palestinians who resist the Israeli occupation, the PA prisons are witnesses to what is being done to them. The PA courts, meanwhile, block the media from covering the issue.

Abbas makes it very clear that he is there to serve the Israeli occupation but not, as Buttu told Al-Jazeera, for the freedom of the Palestinians. “It is quite the opposite,” she explained. “It is the basis for his personal political survival, and he is doing all of this at the expense of Palestinian lives.”

So, is Abbas serving the Palestinians or fooling them? The evidence is clear that it is the latter.

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