President Mahmoud Abbas urged Palestinians Wednesday to step up peaceful protests against Israel, urging "popular resistance" inspired by the Arab Spring to back a diplomatic offensive at the United Nations.The entire point of the Arab Spring is that the protests were conceived, organized and carried out by the people.
Abbas, addressing a Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) meeting, reiterated his decision to seek full U.N. membership for a state of Palestine alongside Israel, a diplomatic move resulting from paralysis in the U.S.-backed peace process.
"In this coming period, we want mass action, organised and coordinated in every place," Abbas said. "This is a chance to raise our voices in front of the world and say that we want our rights."
"I insist on popular resistance and I insist that it be unarmed popular resistance so that nobody misunderstands us. We are now inspired by the protests of the Arab Spring, all of which cry out 'peaceful', 'peaceful'," he said.
If Abbas is telling his people to protest, by definition it is not a "popular protest." It is more like the cynical rallies that Bashir Assad has been organizing to pretend that the Syrians are really behind him.
Then again, Mahmoud Abbas has far more in common with Bashir Assad than with any Western head of state. His term as president expired years ago, he refuses to hold new elections, he ruthlessly acts against media that is not toeing the line, he severely limits anti-PA protests, and his leadership derives not from any election but from his being the head of the PLO to which the PA answers, and he hand-picked his prime minister. Does he sound like a democratic leader?