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Abbas’ Successor Won’t Make a Difference When It Comes to Peace

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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Jan. 14, 2018. Photo: Flash90. – The Israeli and American establishments spend a lot of time discussing who should replace Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas when he is gone.

This establishment thinking was expressed in a recent article titled, “Jibril Rajoub vs. Muhammad Dahlan to replace Mahmoud Abbas” by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, and published on JNS.

In reality, any Palestinian leader will end up acting the same towards Israel.

Why? Because the root problem is that no Muslim leader can sign a final peace agreement with the non-Muslim state of Israel and remain alive. He would be labeled a traitor — because, according to the belief of some Muslims, the land must remain Muslim forever. Muslims conquered all of these lands in 637 CE.

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All of pre-1967 Israel, the West Bank and Gaza must, therefore, remain under Islamic rule — according to this line of thinking. The non-Muslim Jewish state of Israel, from their perspective, has no right to exist.

If a Palestinian leader would sign any such agreement, the people he supposedly represents would destroy him.

That is why former Palestinian head Yasser Arafat rejected the generous peace offer made by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak at Camp David in 2000. Arafat was quoted as saying that he did not want to end up drinking tea with assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. In other words, the Palestinians would kill him if he signed a peace deal to end the conflict.

The Americans and Israelis waste so much energy on who should rule after Abbas — even though it is an irrelevant issue. Many policy-makers simply don’t understand — or choose ignore — that the underlying root of the problem is a religious, civilizational struggle that does not depend on one leader or another. The fight will continue, no matter who is leading the Palestinian people. This is their cultural choice.

As the Israeli Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh pointed out: “No Palestinian leader has a mandate to reach an everlasting peace agreement with Israel. No leader in Ramallah or the Gaza Strip is authorized to end the conflict with Israel.”

He continued, saying that, “any Palestinian who dares to talk about concessions to Israel is quickly denounced as a traitor. Those who believe that whoever succeeds Abbas will be able to make real concessions to Israel are living in an illusion.”

Thus, the Israelis and Americans should stop worrying about who will lead the Palestinians, and instead spend time thinking about how Israel and America can address the civilizational war engulfing the entire region.

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