Abu Mazen’s failed gamble

it’s clear that the military regime, with liberal support, will also fail. As for the Palestinians, all Abu Mazen achieved was (1) the release of 100 prisoners who were supposed to be freed when the peace accords were signed 20 years ago, and (2) some long desired financial aid. All this in exchange for worthless negotiations.

Abu Mazen’ agreement to renew talks is another plank in the US axis for the region, which was revived with the Egyptian coup. Thus Egypt returned to the bosom of “moderate states” by bringing back old leaders from the Mubarak era. Moreover, this is a golden opportunity to deepen the internal Palestinian rift and strike Hamas from behind. These steps have no connection to a Palestinian state or the end of Israel’s settlement project, because the settler government in Israel has no intention of yielding. The Palestinians squandered 20 years of barren talks which served as a cover for expanded Israeli settlement in the West Bank and continued occupation. All Netanyahu wants is to rid himself of the pressure of international opinion and certain sectors of Israeli public opinion. Abu Mazen has no problem in helping him struggle free from this mess.

The fate of the Palestinians remains tied to regional agendas, which at times increase the strength of the Muslim Brotherhood under Qatari tutelage, to Hamas’ joy and the PA’s sorrow, and at other times lift up the Egyptian army with Saudi assistance, thus granting the PA a reason to celebrate. Meanwhile the Palestinian people choke under the burden of the occupation, which brings poverty, an average yearly income of just $2,000, and unemployment rates of 20%. This situation only becomes worse as the population grows and the Israeli settlements swallow up ever more Palestinian land and natural resources.

The resumption of negotiations is not news, because there is no connection between the political motivations behind it and the future of the Palestinian people. It serves the PA and Fatah on the one hand, and Netanyahu’s government and rightwing party on the other, but it does not serve the Palestinian people and, in the final count, neither does it serve the Israeli people. Every opportunity missed undermines future opportunities and merely increases the lack of trust between the peoples, thus nurturing the chain of mutual recriminations.

Abu Mazen could have put an end to this dangerous game, dismantled the PA and given the keys of the occupation back to Israel, so it would be forced to contend with Palestinian anger directly. Unfortunately, some people have found themselves a small paradise in Ramallah, even if the rest of the West Bank and Gaza have become a hell of internal strife, occupation from above, and lack of hope for the future. Abu Mazen made a grave mistake when he gambled on Mubarak, just as Hamas erred in gambling on the Muslim Brotherhood. The truth is, neither is gambling for the sake of the Egyptian or Palestinian people, and this is the real reason their plans have failed.

Translated by Yonatan Preminger

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About Yacov Ben Efrat