The meeting of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in New York will harm the Palestinian cause; it will be of no benefit. There is no validity to claims that the meeting will mobilise the international community against Olmert’s successor, Benjamin Netanyahu; that their joint press conference will discourage Israeli voters from backing the radical right wing; and that it will serve the PA President’s political approach. In fact, Olmert told Yedioth Ahronoth that Abbas is supported by Israel’s security agencies and that his cooperation with them has prevented acts of terrorism against Israeli citizens. He is, claimed Olmert, the only partner for peace with Israel.
Indeed, the meeting between Abbas and Olmert is likely to have the opposite effect on Israeli voters, as was the case in 2008, when the PLO resorted to publishing paid advertisements in Israeli newspapers explaining the benefits of the Arab peace initiative. The right-wing Likud, led by Netanyahu, duly won the election, a result which revealed the general attitude of Israeli society; it grows in arrogance and hostility the more submissive and humiliated Palestinians become.
The New York meeting will encourage Arab normalisers of relations with Israel, who will repeat the words of the Moroccan Foreign Minister who said that the people of Morocco should not be more Palestinian than the Palestinians themselves. As long as the PA President meets with the former Israeli Prime Minister, why shouldn’t Sudan’s Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan meet with the current Israeli Prime Minister? Why shouldn’t Sultan Qaboos receive Netanyahu in Oman? Why shouldn’t Egypt and Jordan import gas from Israel? Why shouldn’t the UAE meet with Israel in Washington? Why shouldn’t an expanded meeting that includes Netanyahu and several Arab leaders be organised in Cairo? Why shouldn’t Bahrain and others participate in the ceremony to announce Trump’s “deal of the century”?
The Abbas-Olmert meeting stabs the Arab masses in the back and pollutes their pure hearts, which do not differentiate between any Likud leaders, whether Netanyahu, Olmert, Ariel Sharon, Yitzhak Shamir or Menachem Begin. They are or were all murderous terrorists and criminals who shed the blood of Arabs, not just the Palestinians. Netanyahu’s face was splattered with the blood of Gaza’s children in 2014; death dripped from Olmert’s fingers during his attack on Gaza in 2008; Sharon dived into the blood of the Arabs and the Palestinians in the West Bank in 2002 (and even earlier in Lebanon and other places); and Begin took a knife of hatred to the necks of women and children in the village of Deir Yassin in 1948.
The meeting between Abbas and Olmert was an escape from the real confrontation and protests along the settler-only roads across the occupied West Bank, and officials’ engagement in false confrontations for the benefit of the media. What we saw in New York was a cheap and desperate pursuit of the lie of negotiations that have failed several tests. As such, the Palestinian people, organisations, institutions and influential figures must yell in the face of Abbas and tell him to stop disregarding the fate of a nation whose land is stolen as a result of him avoiding the inevitable confrontation with the occupation state.
It was interesting to see that Facebook took down a post by an Israeli professor of chemistry at the Hebrew University. Amiram Goldblum had urged Palestinians “to establish armed militias to protect their villages and towns from the terrorist settlers.”
If an Israeli professor can do this, why can’t Abbas stop these defeatist meetings, rhetorical speeches, comical statements and verbal threats? Stop waiting for yet more sorrow, calamities and deals inflicted by the Israelis on the ground, President Abbas, and you might make a real difference to the lives of the people of Palestine.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.