Abbas: The Leader Who Cried Wolf?
JNS.org – Not a week goes by without the Palestinian Authority (PA) making threats against Israel over its reported plan to apply sovereignty to large parts of Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley in the very near future.
PA leader Mahmoud Abbas has again threatened to declare the 1993 Oslo Accords, upon which the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is based, null and void — which would also mean the dissolution of the PA. Most recently, these threats has been compounded by the decision to suspend coordination between the Palestinian security forces and the Israel Defense Forces.
However, no one is taking Abbas’ threats seriously, not Israel and — more importantly — not the PA or the Arab world. After all, Abbas has been singing the same tune for nearly two decades, since he replaced Yasser Arafat at the helm of the PA.
And despite these threats, there has been zero follow-through. The simple fact is that, despite Abbas’ statements, assertions, pledges, and promises, security coordination has been maintained on all levels. Said cooperation is every bit a Palestinian interest as it is an Israeli one, and it protects Abbas — not just the Israeli public — from Hamas.
It is quite astounding to realize how different things are here now than they were 20 years ago, when terrorist attacks in the Second Intifada claimed Israeli lives almost daily. One cannot forget that the deadly wave of violence followed then-prime minister Ehud Barak’s generous offer to cede 95% of Judea and Samaria to the Palestinians, including parts of eastern Jerusalem and even the Temple Mount.
The substantial Israeli offer met the usual Palestinian rejectionism, complete with rabid incitement and the sponsoring of terrorism by Arafat. Fast-forward two decades, and the government’s plan to apply Israeli law to Judea and Samaria is met with indifference by many Palestinians, as are Abbas’ threats.
No one is impressed by the aging leader and, right now, no one is taking to the streets to protest. One might even suspect that there are quite a few Palestinians who will not oppose becoming Israeli citizens.
Abbas has no cards left up his sleeve and very little support on the ground. All he can do is scoff and intimidate, but his threats no longer have any significance. Israel is now the only player on the field — facing a historic moment that presents unparalleled opportunities but requires vigilance, discretion, and foresight.
Eyal Zisser is a lecturer in the Middle East History Department at Tel Aviv University. This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.