What Does Abbas Really Want?

Mahmoud Abbas' latest threat is that if the U.N. Security Council doesn't approve his resolution calling for recognition of the state of Palestine within the 1967 borders and order full Israeli withdrawal by the end of 2017, his Palestinian Authority with "no longer deal" with Israel.

"If it fails, we will no longer deal with the Israeli government, which will then be forced to assume its responsibilities as an occupier," he was quoted telling the Algerian APS news agency.

Under his proposal Israel would have to agree to a peace deal within 12 months and would then have two years to fully withdraw to the 1967 lines.  Jerusalem would the shared capital of the two states.

"We are determined to regain the rights of our people, including the right of return (for refugees) and the freedom of all Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails," Abbas said.

But is that what he really wants? 

Abbas' rush to the Security Council and his latest threats raise questions about his true intentions.

He knows the Israeli body politic may be deeply divided but on some issues there is a broad consensus:  no imposed solution and no unfettered right of return for Palestinian refugees.

Abbas follows Israeli politics very closely and knows that his actions could well swing the election toward the rejectionist Right that opposes Palestinian statehood. Could that be what he wants to happen?  If he really wants statehood, why help elect Israeli politicians who oppose it?

This could be an historic election. Abbas can help influence its direction. Does he really want statehood or does he want to keep the issue alive, avoid the responsibility of running a real government, swing the election toward the far Right and wait for the outside world to impose his terms on Israel?

Read more in my Washington Watch column.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.