Abu Mazen aggressive desperation

It seems that immediately after the ruinous speech given by Abu Mazen at the Palestinian Central Council on Sunday night, he stated to his fellow members at the Mukata, “This could be the last time you see me here”. Sadness, defeat, and abandonment are the words that best characterize his recent discourse. It is the thirteenth year, just yesterday, of a presidency without any successes, whose votes have never been renewed since 2005, when he was elected in the aftermath of the Intifada.

On Sunday, he celebrated this birthday by cursing Trump at the height of a long and extravagant speech: “Yikhrib Beytak”, which means, “May your house be destroyed”. In shuk language [i.e. colloquial Palestinian Arabic], adapted to the tone of Götterdämmerung: his ramblings were so many as to suggest the onset of old age.

Abu Mazen is 82-years-old, and many have wondered, especially after Sunday’s speech, whether it might not be time for him to think about going into retirement. The speech dictated by frustration and failure, however, repeats the leitmotifs of Abu Mazen’s politics: rejection, negationism, delegitimization of the Jewish presence.

So when he said he could cancel the Oslo Accords he didn’t actually say anything new: the Oslo Accords have been dead for years due to the Palestinian’s refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish people to its historical roots, and therefore on the hope of throwing them into the sea, as Gamal Nasser at his time said. Mere Arab refusal, since 1948.

More than any exclamation on Jerusalem, the refusal of having contact with the Americans, and the refusal to restart the peace process with Israel, what makes the most impression is the injurious history lesson that Abu Mazen sought to impose: “The Europeans wanted to bring the Jews here (that is, with the Shoah, seen as a sort of colonialist fiction) to preserve their interests in the region, they asked the Holland (!), which had the world’s largest fleet, to move the Jews…Israel is a colonial project that has nothing to do with Jews”.

After this, Abu Mazen again ritually asked England to apologize for the Balfour Declaration, which recognized the right of Jews to “a national home in Palestine”: Abu Mazen seems to ignore the fact that the Balfour Declaration was part of an anti-colonialist start, namely the dismantling of the Turkish and European presence in the Middle East while the borders of self-determination were being drawn.

Abu Mazen seeks to salvage a position typical of his generation: Jews are intruders, Zionism a colonial movement that has nothing to do with Judaism. This which was magnified by the advent of Shoah, according to him, afterward exaggerated for political ends. His doctoral dissertation was actually on this topic. Even his memory of the negotiations with former Israeli PM Ehud Olmert, in which the “right of return” was the deal-breaker, he shifted the dispute onto Jordan: one more lie.

Abu Mazen re-proposed the cancellation of the Jewish State, accused Trump of wanting to steal Jerusalem from him, and announced that he rejects any peace plan, any contact with the White House, now and forever, as well as reiterated with fury his refusal to meet the US ambassador to Israel David Friedman stating, “Not here, not in Amman, and not in Washington”. Go to hell everyone: a cry of despair in suddenly seeing himself abandoned while the previous guarantor, Obama, preferred the Palestinians to the Israelis; in witnessing the uselessness of the European predilection; and realizing that the Sunni countries, especially Saudi Arabia and Egypt, are much more interested in having a good relationship with the United States than with the Palestinians.

Instead of $125 million, Trump is deciding to send only $60 million to the UNRWA, the Agency for so-called Palestinian refugees; the US’s threat to cut off $300 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority is becoming real. The anti-Trump victory obtained by the Palestinians in the Security Council received less votes than expected.

The PA’s politics of refusal is leading the Palestinians into the arms of Hamas, who in turn must now bet on Hezbollah and the Iranians, with Erdoğan’s sympathy while terrorism is cheered by their people. Not a very desirable nation for the world.

Abu Mazen, however, didn’t close all doors: with his usual technique, he only threatened ruptures, left the collaboration of the security services and the agreements of the past standing, and repeated the word “peace”. Just in case. America is always America, and if the world has believed until today, against any evidence, in the peace process, why not also tomorrow.

Translation by Amy Rosenthal

This article originally appeared in slightly different form in Italian in Il Giornale (January 16, 2018)

About the Author
Fiamma Nirenstein is a journalist, author, former Deputy President of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, and member of the Italian delegation at the Council of Europe.