In what may be an unprecedented move, a Saudi newspaper has criticized Mahmoud Abbas for reflexively rejecting Binyamin Netanyahu's invitation for him to speak to Knesset during his speech at the UN last week:
The Palestinians should not be too quick to dismiss the invitation extended by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to address Israel’s parliament in return to “gladly come to speak peace with the Palestinian parliament in Ramallah.” Netanyahu’s gesture was quickly rejected by the Palestinians as a “new gimmick” but the invitation is reminiscent of the one issued by former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to visit Israel — and the rest is history.Notably, top Egyptian intelligence official also derided Abbas in a leaked phone call:
...The Palestinians have rebuffed Netanyahu’s past offers for such invitations, saying his hard-line position on all core issues made dialogue impossible.
...But the Palestinians should note that at the time, Egypt and Israel were mortal enemies, having fought three wars. Camp David called for a five-year transitional period of Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza. The transitional period would include the introduction of Palestinian self-government and an end to Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Much of the Arab world derided it as a weak deal. But in hindsight, if the provisions had been carried out, Israel and the Palestinians might not be in the impasse they are in at present.
A high-ranking Egyptian intelligence officer ridicules Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in a leaked telephone conversation with exiled Palestinian strongman Mohammed Dahlan, it was revealed Saturday night.Khaled Abu Toameh adds:
Abbas was referred to as “stupid,” and his movement Fatah “screwed,” by Major General Wael el-Safty of Egypt’s General Intelligence Directorate (GID), which is responsible for providing national security intelligence both at home and abroad.
In the latest leaked recording, only the Egyptian side of the conversation is audible. Safty’s voice is heard, but not [Mohammed] Dahlan’s responses.
Still, it is obvious that the person on the other end of the telephone is Dahlan, because he is referred to by his kunya, or traditional Palestinian name, Abu Fadi.
Furthermore, after exchanging pleasantries, Safty asks about members of Dahlan’s family by name.
“Abu Fadi, the years are passing,” the Egyptian intelligence officer reminisces early on in the tape.
Soon thereafter, they begin talking about someone whose “concentration isn’t at full capacity”. Safty then says this person “has nothing to offer”.
The tapes go on to make clear that the man they are talking about is Abbas, 81.
“You told me something I still remember to this day,” Safty tells Dahlan. “You said that he [Abbas] is like a camel.”
The implication here is that Abbas is repeatedly churning out old ideas without bringing anything new to the table. Camels, like cattle, are ruminant animals that digest then re-digest their food a number of times.
“He isn’t smart at all,” the Egyptian intelligence officer says. “The issue of [Abbas’] age also comes into it… He doesn’t want to change, he doesn’t want to do anything.”
At this point, the conversation turns from petty insults to expressions of real frustration with Abbas. Safty lets loose.
“Fatah is completely screwed,” he says. “The [Palestinian Liberation] Organisation is even worse.”
“He can’t even contain the factions [within Fatah],” he says. “These are the ones that Abu Mazen [Abbas’s kunya] couldn’t contain, these people drove me absolutely crazy, their positions have begun to align with Hamas.
“He can’t bring them together,” Safty tells Dahlan in utter exasperation. “I swear, he can’t bring them together.
“It's stupidity,” he says, before again referring to Abbas’s advancing age, adding that the PA president does not have many laps left to run: “The track is running out, if you excuse the phrase.”
Abbas, his aides admit, is today more worried about the "Arab meddling" in the internal affairs of the Palestinians than he is about "collective punishment" or "settlement activities." In fact, he is so worried that he recently lashed out at those Arab countries that have launched an initiative to "re-arrange the Palestinian home from within" and bring about changes in the Palestinian political scene.The irony of Abbas being subject to an imposed solution to his splits with the Dahlan faction and Hamas is too delicious. His major initiative, after all, is to have the international community impose a solution on Israel.
The Arab countries behind the initiative -- Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates -- are being referred to by many Palestinians as the "Arab Quartet."
In an unprecedented critique of these countries, Abbas recently declared:
"The decision is ours and we are the only ones who make decisions. No one has authority over us. No one can dictate to us what to do. I don't care about the discomfort of Washington or Moscow or other capitals. I don't want to hear about these capitals. I don't want the money of these capitals. Let's free ourselves from the 'influence' of these capitals."
Although he did not mention the four Arab countries by name, it was clear that Abbas was referring to the "Arab Quartet" when he was talking about "capitals" and their influence and money. Abbas's message: "How dare any Arab country tell me what to do, no matter how wealthy and influential it may be." Abbas sees the demand by these Arab countries for new Palestinian leadership, unity and reforms in Fatah as "unacceptable meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians."
So what exactly is it in the new Arab initiative that has so enraged Abbas, to the point that he is prepared to place at risk his relations with four of the Arab world's preeminent states?
According to reports in Arab media outlets, the "Arab Quartet" has drafted a plan to "activate the Palestinian portfolio" by ending the dispute between Abbas's Fatah and Hamas. The plan also calls for ending the schism within Fatah by allowing some of its expelled leaders, including Mohamed Dahlan, to return to the faction. The overall aim of the plan is to unite the West Bank and Gaza Strip under one authority and end the state of political anarchy in the territories controlled by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. The "Arab Quartet" has even formed a committee to oversee the implementation of any "reconciliation" agreements reached between Fatah and Hamas and Abbas and his adversaries in Fatah. According to the plan, if such an agreement is not reached, the Arab League will intervene to "enforce reconciliation" between the rival Palestinian parties.
Abbas and Fatah leaders in Ramallah are convinced that the "Arab Quartet" members are actually planning to pave the way for promoting "normalization" between the Arab world and Israel -- all at the expense of the Palestinians. They claim that the four Arab countries are using and promoting Dahlan in order to facilitate their mission of rapprochement with Israel. These countries have reached the conclusion that as long as Abbas and the current PA leadership are around, it would be very difficult to initiate any form of "normalization" or peace treaties between Arab countries and Israel. The PA leadership's position has always been that peace between the Arab countries and Israel should come only after, and not before, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved.Bibi's vision of peace between Arabs and Israel that he mentioned at the UN is further along than people realize - and Mahmoud Abbas is the main obstacle. The Arab world has been sick and tired of the Palestinian issue for years and the Arab leaders correctly realize that it is the Palestinian side that has blocked any chance for peace, by insisting on having its own demands fully met before any other movement.
At a time when the Arab world has real enemies and real problems, issues that they share with Israel, the Palestinian position becomes less and less relevant.
The cracks in the purported Arab unity on the issue of Israel are widening.