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Does anyone actually believe what Mahmoud Abbas says?

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends the 43rd Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on December 09, 2022. [Royal Court of Saudi Arabia - Anadolu Agency]
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends the 43rd Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. [Royal Court of Saudi Arabia - Anadolu Agency]

In a recent interview with Al-Arabiya.net, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas gave further proof of his fluctuating thought patterns and lack of credibility when it comes to Palestinian political rights. While attempting a harsher tone, as in his UN General Assembly speech this year, Abbas has nothing to offer other than revisiting, and at times negating, earlier statements which were never taken further.

This year has been marked by a heightened display of awareness among the Palestinian people in terms of unifying their resistance away from the main Palestinian political factions. In the process, the PA in particular was marginalised by the people, even as Israel and the US attempted to help Abbas retain his stronghold in the occupied West Bank by offering concessions to alleviate some Palestinian humanitarian needs. Yet the agreements which Abbas reached with outgoing Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz have not sufficed. If Abbas's stranglehold on power was dependent upon the Palestinians, the PA would no longer exert any authority. As things stand, it is propped up through collaboration with Israel and the international community and exists as a buffer between the Palestinian people and Israel's colonial expansion. Abbas's recent interview highlights overtly the PA's role in the colonial process, no matter how much context was included in terms of the international community's non-binding resolutions on Palestine.

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What stood out most was Abbas's commitment to security coordination with Israel, as well as his opposition to legitimate armed resistance. Speaking detachedly about how Palestinians are engaging in resistance, Abbas pretended to give thought to the possibility of endorsing armed struggle by stating, "I might change my mind at any given moment, of course! Maybe tomorrow or the day after or any time." Yet we know that there is no chance that Abbas will shun the futile diplomatic engagement which the PA has been created to promote. Indeed, he has already collaborated with Israel to detain Palestinians involved in the current resistance efforts, as he did in the past with Palestinians affiliated to resistance factions.

Meanwhile, on security coordination, Abbas once again repeated the same jargon which no Palestinian believes. "I will terminate my commitment to the security agreement if Israel continues to disregard all the humanitarian and political issues we share." Has Abbas not had enough proof of Israel's colonial expansion showing complete disregard for Palestinians' political rights? Has he forgotten about the times that he has threatened to end security coordination and failed to follow through on his threat?

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For Abbas, security coordination and armed resistance have simply been catchphrases upon which the PA capitalised depending upon its need to retain some veneer of relevance. Furthermore, Abbas denied ever threatening to dissolve the PA, even though he did so on several occasions which were reported by the official Wafa news agency. The inconsistencies which Abbas utters are reflected in his politics, and in turn these give Israel and the international community the upper hand. As long as he continues to utter vague and entirely toothless threats, while collaborating with Israel to prevent a unified armed resistance from spreading across Palestine, his mentions of Israeli colonial violence serve little purpose. If colonialism exists, the duty is incumbent on everyone to oppose it by all means. Abbas should know that it is useless to mention the Zionist narrative if his actions, and those of the PA, only serve to uphold it. Does anyone actually believe a word he says?

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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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