RUTHIE BLUM: PALESTINIANS BRACE FOR LIKUD RE-ELECTION
Palestinians prepare for Israeli elections
They are not doing this for purposes of emulation, however. On the contrary, nation-building in the Palestinian Authority has always taken a back seat to nation-destroying. Indeed, while spending all its energy — and other countries’ billions — on trying to take down the Jewish state, the PA has been barely treading water, forever on the verge of drowning. Were it not for the constant mouth-to-mouth resuscitation it receives from the United States, the European Union, and Israel (!), it probably would have imploded by now. Fully aware of this, the Arab states do little more than pay lip service to the Palestinian cause; they certainly never fork over the amount of cash they have pledged repeatedly.
All of the above is at the root of the poverty of the Palestinian populace, whose only hope of making a living is and always has been to work in Israel. Those employed by the PA, after all, not only earn a mere pittance, but often are not paid their salaries altogether. This makes them extremely cranky and restless. Not being able to put food on the table will do that.
To keep any street demonstrations from turning into another chapter of the so-called “Arab Spring,” the PA leadership uses its most reliable ploy, both at home and abroad: It blames Israel.
Just as this tired excuse was getting a bit too stale among the Palestinians in the West Bank (in Gaza it’s a no-brainer), whose grumbling against the leadership was reaching fever pitch, PA President Mahmoud Abbas pulled a maneuver that turned him into the hero he had only dreamed of becoming. He went to New York and returned with upgraded status at the United Nations. This thrilled the Palestinian street, which treated the development as though it were an official a declaration of statehood.
To the delight of Abbas and his henchmen, the PA could now get down to business — not that of making the desert bloom, establishing institutions, or even of paying salaries to its employees. No, much more important to Abbas has been to roll up his sleeves and to prepare to sue Israel at the International Criminal Court at The Hague. Oh, and make amends with Hamas, the terrorist organization running Gaza that doesn’t even bother with the PA’s “peace” charade.
This is why Abbas and PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad have been creating a strategy to suit the immediate regional and international climate, keeping their focus on Jan. 22 — when Israelis go to the polls — and on the current forming of U.S. President Barack Obama’s new cabinet. As of now, the former will mean another term for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the latter might see the appointment of former senator Chuck Hagel, a Hamas apologist, as America’s secretary of defense.
Abbas and Fayyad must be looking forward to this combination. Since the Obama administration has considered Netanyahu to be just as responsible for a stalemate in the “peace process” as Abbas (if not more), the PA leaders can do what they always do — up the ante for negotiations — but with guaranteed sympathy from Washington. This would be boosted by leaps and bounds if Hagel were to join the team on Capitol Hill.
Harsh statements emanating from Ramallah this week are a good gage of what can be expected in Jerusalem in the months to come.
One is that the Palestinians are going to demand another construction freeze as a precondition for “peace” talks. This is something Netanyahu has said he would reject, since the last time he suspended building for 10 months, the PA didn’t honor its end of the bargain, which was to come to the negotiating table. If Netanyahu is elected and does not comply with this term, Palestinian officials say they will sue Israel for war crimes, hold mass demonstrations, and cease security cooperation with Israel in the West Bank.
Another threat is Fayyad’s call on Palestinians to launch an “economic intifada” against Israel through boycotts. According to Khaled Abu Toameh in a Gatestone Institute article, “Fayyad is angry because the Israel Electric Company finally collected its debts from Palestinian consumers.” Fayyad referred to this legitimate move as “illegal and immoral.”
None of this is new. Nor is the fact that Right-leaning voters in Israel fear that Netanyahu, if elected, will succumb to pressure from the White House to do whatever it takes to appease the Palestinians, while the Left believes that he is the key obstacle to a peaceful “two-state solution.”
The Palestinian leadership knows with absolute certainty, however, that there is nothing any Israeli prime minister can offer — short of Jewish national suicide — that will be acceptable.
Ruthie Blum is the author of “To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring.’”
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