The other threat may imply even greater danger. Following Israel’s victory over the 2nd Intifada, PA security forces in the West Bank have for the most part cooperated with the IDF in preventing terrorism, even collaborating at times in the hunt for secret Hamas cells. But if those PA forces were to suddenly cease to exist, if all government apparatus for social services and financial controls were to suddenly disappear, the Palestinian organization most primed and ready to take over would be Hamas; and Hamas would jump at the opportunity. It is perhaps not coincidental that Abbas met late last year with Khaled Mesha’al, the political leader of Hamas, to “…discuss…the present situation and the prospects of getting out of it and working out a national strategy for the future.”
So what Abbas is really trying to tell Netanyahu is that the terms of his letter are the best deal that Israel can hope to get; and if Netanyahu does not play ball, Abbas will step aside and let Hamas mount the 3rd Intifada from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip at the same time. It would take only a bit of stalling by Abbas to interfere with Israel’s assumption of these responsibilities, during which time Hamas steps in.
It is likely that Hamas would jump at the opportunity to rule all of “Palestine” and to launch a multi-front terror war-on-steroids against Israel, precisely because it has been weakened by the loss of its Syrian base due to the Muslim Brotherhood’s support of the revolution in Syria, it has lost Iran’s financial support to competing terror groups in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (such asHizb ut-Tahrir) as punishment for Hamas’ refusal to support Syria’s Assad, and its popularity is in severe decline with its rank-and-file in the Gaza Strip and West Bank due to its lack of sufficient qassam rocket attacks on Israel. So expanded political power and greater latitude to attack Israel is just what Hamas needs to get itself back to its position of primus inter pares amongMuslim terrorist groups.
So what are the real options?
The letter itself is obvious bluster and a postured pretense at peace-making. Some have critiqued it noting that it is full of errors, omissions and outright lies; and it is really nothing more than a rehash of PA demands to which the PA knows Israel cannot accede. As Israeli officials have said in the past, if one agrees to all of the other side’s demands in advance of negotiations, then what does one negotiate about? PA officials know this just as well as do Israeli leaders. The letter is not an opening to peace negotiations. In fact, it is, in all probability, not even addressed to Netanyahu.
Israeli media sources received leaks from Palestinian leaders about the content of the letter almost a week in advance of the meeting. Yet the Israeli side wanted to keep details of the meeting secret even up to the day of the meeting. For what audienceswere those leaks, obviously in violation of Israel’s desire for secrecy, intended?
The same question was asked about Abbas’ op-ed in the New York Times before his UN bid for recognition. He stated clearly and unabashedly that the entry of “Palestine” into the family of nations and its acquisition of UN status as a bona fide state would not end the conflict. Rather such status would enable the PA to ratchet up the conflict to a higher level of political warfare by giving the new state of “Palestine” access to the ICC and ICJ (International Court of Justice) wherein Abbas and complicit partners in evil could support the Palestinian attempts to delegitimize Israel, condemn it as the world’s worst violator of human rights and perpetrator of war crimes, and then pressure Israel’s allies, especially those in the EU, to disassociate from Israel.
Did Abbas think that such threats endeared him to the EU or reduced the likelihood of American pressure against his bid? More likely, his audience for these comments was not those to whom he spoke, but rather those in the Arab world and their collaborators elsewhere who do not want to see the conflict end until Israel is destroyed. For that audience, Abbas’ anti-Israel credentials have been eroded by his cooperation with Israel, by his PA security forces’ collaboration with Israel, and by the relatively terror-free calm of the West Bank since Israel’s defeat of the 2nd Intifada. His statement to the world of Israel-haters was clear: He is still at it, working with lawfare and BDS and delegitimization and accusations of war crimes, rather than with qassams and suicide bombers; but the end game is the same — Palestine from the river to the sea.
And this is probably the case with the letter to Netanyahu. By leaking its contents prematurely, he told his constituency and financial supporters and other partners in evil that he is still in a better position than Hamas to bring about Israel’s demise, despite his temporary setbacks at the UN and ICC.
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