|Abbas must go|
by Khalid Amayreh
Mahmoud Abbas’s decision to defer the adoption of the Goldstone report by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva last week was more than an innocent diplomatic error or classical example of political misjudgment.
It was rather a brazen act of national irresponsibility bordering on breach of trust or outright treason.
I realize that one shouldn’t use words such “treason” very lightly. However, it is also true that undermining national interests, even unknowingly, in order to appease Israel and please the Obama administration goes beyond the pale of what is politically allowable and morally acceptable.
We are a people languishing under a cruel military occupation that is trying to obliterate us as a people using nefarious tactics, including murderous ethnic cleansing. This is why we can’t allow ourselves to have the luxury of having third-class leaders playing with our cause.
Abbas might cite a lot of excuses to save face and extenuate the gravity of this blunder, to put extremely mildly, such as claiming that he came under tremendous American pressure, or that he didn’t foresee the harmful effects of his decision on the Palestinian people and their just cause.
But such excuses makes no sense and only dishonest peoples or imbeciles would give Abbas the benefit of the doubt.
The reason is very simple. If indeed incompetence, or misjudgment or even senility is to blame for this appalling act of national irresponsibility, then it is clear that Abbas is unfit to be the leader of the Palestinian people. In the final analysis, incompetent leaders can be as harmful to their nations as treacherous leaders are.
But the scandalous blunder would be considered a brazen act of treason if Abbas did know what he was doing and if he decided to sheepishly heed the American “advice” despite his foreknowledge that this would cause a huge harm to the Palestinian cause.
So, in both cases, Abbas has no excuses to remain in his job as “President” of the Palestinian Authority, an entity of ill-repute that has wreaked havoc on the Palestinian people and their just cause.
The just Palestinian cause simply can’t bear having another “mistake” or “judgment error” of this magnitude.
Today, the issue is shielding Israeli war criminals from international condemnation and possible prosecution and punishment. God knows what could happen next if the Palestinian people allowed this awful absurdity to persist.
It is really difficult to relate to this issue without getting angry. After all, we are dealing with the murder of more than 1400 innocent Palestinians, including hundreds of children, brutally massacred in order to grant the Judeo-Nazi entity a feeling of safety, confidence and deterrence.
In fact, what happened in Gaza more than nine months ago was a quasi-holocaust. How else could one honestly relate to the ganging up by a regional superpower on a helpless and blockaded people who could hardly find sufficient food to feed their children, a people who had to die everyday to prove that they were alive?
And when a glimmer of hope for taking the murderers and child-killers to task appeared on the distant horizons, the leader of the victimized people, Mr. Abbas, readily and single-handedly volunteered to help Israel bury its crimes by saying “not this time!”
Well, if not this time, then when, Mr. President? When the disciples of Hitler will turn Gaza , Nablus and al-Khalil into another Auschwitz , another Bergen Belsen, and another Mauthausen?
When the world loses whatever semblance of human conscience it still has and comes to view the murder of Palestinians by the Nazi-minded Israelis as just one of these unpleasant aspects of daily life?
Besides, it is perfectly legitimate to wonder if a president who doesn’t fully realize the consequences and repercussions of his actions can really be entrusted with the paramount task of tackling the national burden, the task of regaining our freedom and extricating our usurped rights from the claws of Zionism.
Indeed, would it be farfetched to think that Abbas and his ilk could repeat the same disastrous stupidity (in case he didn’t mean it) or brazen treachery (in case he did) with more paramount issues such as Jerusalem and the right of return for millions of Palestinian refugees unjustly uprooted from their ancestral homeland at the hands of the criminal Zionists?
In fact, there is already strong evidence that Abbas is planning to compromise on both issues ( Jerusalem and the refugees), which require that we, the people of Palestine , remain vigilant in order to thwart all conspiracies against our survival and future.
I strongly believe that Abbas must take the right decision and retire for good. That would be a dignified step that would spare him further indignity and dishonor.
The Palestinian people are too tired and too exhausted to fight on two battles, the main battle with the Zionist beast which is trying to arrogate our land and ruin our present and future, and a secondary battle of preserving our just cause from the betrayal of narcissistic and self-absorbed “leaders” who think that complacency and capitulation are the best policy.
Finally, Fatah should draw the right conclusion from this sorry episode. After all, one doesn’t have to be a great public relations expert to realize that the continued existence of this man at the helm of Fatah will prove to be disastrous. But the issue is more than just public relations. The issue is Palestine itself.
The people just won’t forgive you, and Abbas is no Yasser Arafat.
Embarrassed and denounced
In monumental fashion, recent events in Geneva have roundly earned Fatah and Abbas’s Palestinian Authority the contempt of ordinary Palestinians, reports Khalid Amayreh from Ramallah
The Palestinian Authority (PA) is facing an extremely embarrassing situation following its decision earlier this week to endorse deferring the ratification of the Goldstone Report at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva.
The report, compiled by South African judge Richard Goldstone, accused Israel of committing, knowingly and deliberately, war crimes and crimes against humanity during its winter onslaught on the Gaza Strip in which more than 1,400 Palestinians were killed, most of whom were innocent civilians, including more than 300 children, with thousands others injured or badly incinerated by phosphoric bombs. Thousands of homes, mosques and public buildings were destroyed in the 22-day blitz.
The adoption of the report by the UNHRC would likely have led to calls for its referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague and could eventually have led to the prosecution of suspected Israeli war criminals. However, the inexplicable PA decision to support freezing discussion of the report until March has effectively enabled Israel to evade culpability by burying and neutralising the report, at least for the time being.
In occupied Palestine, and much of the Arab world, the scandalous PA misstep has drawn universal condemnation from the political right to the left, with PA officials, including President Mahmoud Abbas, finding themselves at loss as to how to shield themselves from an avalanche of vitriolic condemnations and accusations ranging from commission of treason to weakness, incompetence and powerlessness in the face of Israel and the United States.
In fact, no other act by the PA/PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation) since the signing of the Oslo Accords more than 16 years ago has met such a unanimous revulsion, which explains the perplexed and confused reactions of PA officials and spokespersons. Moreover, most of the criticism came from secular groups, including organisations associated with the PLO itself, which would refute the claim that the widespread indignation was part of the public relations showdown between Fatah and the Islamist camp.
Even Fatah, Abbas’s own party, which is the political backbone of both the PLO and PA, had to “go with the flow,” at least publicly, by criticising the “irresponsible feat” in Geneva. Fatah is worried that the Geneva fiasco may cause it to lose popularity ahead of Palestinian elections that could take place in the second half of 2010.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas, eager to limit the damage, has ordered a probe into what happened. However, very few Palestinians take the measure seriously since it is widely believed that it was Abbas himself who asked the Palestinian ambassador to the UN to recommend freezing the Goldstone Report until March.
Hamas used strong epithets to denounce the PA decision to defer discussion of the Goldstone Report. Hamas leaders in Gaza and Damascus slammed the decision as representing “total subservience and submission” to the Zionist will. Ismail Haniyeh, the prime minister of the Hamas government in Gaza, blamed Abbas for the debacle, asserting that it was Abbas who took the decision. “The decision to abandon the Goldstone Report came from the top of the authority in Ramallah,” he said.
Harsher words came from Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza. “The Palestinian people would like to know if the Ramallah leadership is a defender of the Palestinian people and their just cause or a lawyer for Israel. We wouldn’t be exaggerating if we said that this irresponsible behaviour borders on treason,” he said.
Hamas had lately toned down its propaganda war against Fatah, apparently in order to help create the atmosphere conducive to prospective reconciliation between the two groups. However, it seems that Hamas has found the latest public relations disaster incurred by Abbas too precious to be let pass quietly — especially since the PA misstep is widely viewed as a huge betrayal for war victims and the entire people of the Gaza Strip.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a PLO faction, also strongly denounced the deferral of the Goldstone Report as “irresponsible, defeatist” and representing a “huge affront to our people’s struggle for justice”. “This suspicious behaviour,” the group continued, “is a prescription for corroding a major tool of our struggle against the Israeli occupation.” A statement by the PFLP dismissed as “mendacious and silly” PA justifications for “this irresponsible act” which only serves the goals and interests of Israel.
Even stronger words came from the Islamic Jihad, which strongly condemned PA “connivance with our enemy”. “The PA behaviour in Geneva brings shame and dishonour to the Ramallah leadership and underscores the extent to which that leadership is conspiring with the Zionist regime against the interests of our people.” According to Mohamed Al-Hindi, a prominent Islamic Jihad leader in the Gaza Strip, “it is disgraceful that while the Palestinian people are celebrating the release of its honourable female prisoners from Israeli dungeons, the PA is conspiring with Israel to cover up its crimes against our people in Gaza.”
The NGO sector also strongly denounced the Palestinian “retreat” in Geneva. In a widely circulated appeal entitled, “Justice delayed is justice denied,” 16 Palestinian civic and human rights organisations argued that PA consent to defer the ratification of the Goldstone Report to March effectively “denied the Palestinian people the right to an effective judicial remedy and equal protection of the law. It also represents the triumph of politics over human rights. It is an insult to all victims and a rejection of their rights.”
The same statement argued that the right to justice for victims of the Israeli war on Gaza shouldn’t be subject to political manoeuvring. “These rights are universal, they are not subject to political considerations. In the nine months since Operation Cast Lead, no effective judicial investigation has been conducted into the conflict.”
It is still somewhat unclear why the PA embraced such an unpopular decision. Some unnamed PA officials have disclosed that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton bullied Abbas to defer discussion of the Goldstone Report, arguing that ratification of the report at the UNHRC would embarrass Israel and seriously undermine American efforts to restart the stalled peace process. The same sources intimated that the Obama administration had threatened to suspend its role as broker of Middle East peace efforts and freeze financial aid to the PA government if the latter didn’t heed the American “advice”.
Israel, also reportedly threatened the PA that it would refuse to license a new Palestinian mobile phone company, partially owned by one of Abbas’s sons, if the PA pushed for the adoption of the Goldstone Report in Geneva. However, the most likely reason for the PA decision may have to do with an Israeli threat to release records of conversations between Israeli and PA officials showing the latter pleading with the former to pursue the war on Gaza to the end in order to crush Hamas.
The PA has remained reticent over these specific accusations, which only enforces speculation about the public rumours.
What is clear is that the latest scandal, or “Goldstone-gate” as some Palestinian journalists are beginning to refer to events in Geneva, is likely to seriously undermine PA standing with the Palestinian public. Weakened popularity, coupled with obvious US failure to force Israel to freeze Jewish-only settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, along with mounting tension around Al-Aqsa Mosque, could form an incendiary trigger that might eventually explode in a new wave of violence — a third Intifada.
Abbas’s Hard Time After Gaza’s UN Report
Exposed and Embarrassed, Fatah Is Losing Ground
By Khalid Amayreh
|Journalist — Occupied Palestine|
|Abbas allegedly collaborated with Israel against Palestinian people. (Reuters Photo)|
The Western-backed Palestinian Authority (PA) is struggling to save face and retain political survival following its decision last week to defer, until March, the adoption by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council (HRC) of the Goldstone Report on the Israeli blitz against the Gaza Strip last winter.
The report accuses Israel of knowingly and deliberately committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.
More than 1400 Palestinians, the vast majority of whom were innocent civilians, were killed in the 20-day-onslaught in which the state-of-the-art American technology of death was used.
Thousands others were left maimed, paralyzed, and badly incinerated by white phosphorus bombs wantonly dropped on civilian neighborhoods.
Moreover, thousands of buildings, including homes, mosques, hospitals, businesses, and college buildings were also utterly destroyed by the Israeli air force.
Caught unprepared for the unprecedented indignation of the Palestinian public, PA officials have been exceedingly embarrassed as how to explain, let alone justify, a decision that has effectively helped Israel bury its crimes and shield its alleged war criminals against possible prosecution before international courts.
What Went Wrong?
The PA leadership has yet to explain to the Palestinian people what exactly went wrong and who were the officials that committed the most serious political blunder against Palestinian national interests since the signing of the Oslo Accords more than 16 years ago.
Former PA official Nabil Amr lambasted Chairman Mahmud Abbas for this “scandalous act”.
“He is the President of the Palestinian Authority, and he should bear full responsibility for what happened,” said Amr during a televised interview on Tuesday.
More to the point, Palestinian leaders and intellectuals across the political spectrum used strong epithets such as “treason” and “connivance with Israel” to describe the “fiasco in Geneva”.
Hamas’ officials have questioned the wisdom of entrusting a “weak leader who collapses under pressure to represent the Palestinian cause in harsh peace talks with Israel.”
Abbas had indicated that he had ordered Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) observer to the United Nations, Ibrahim Khreisha, to ask the HRC to defer discussion of the Goldstone Report due to intense American pressure.
One Palestinian writer scoffed at the justification, saying it was “uglier than a sin”.
“If the president budges so easily on this comparatively simple matter, how can we expect him to resist pressure from Israel and the United States when the cardinal contentious issues relate to Al-Quds (Jerusalem), Al-Aqsa Mosque and the refugees’ right of return,” said the writer.
Abdul Bari Atwan, a London-based Palestinian writer and commentator interviewed by Al-Jazeera pan-Arab TV, called the PA “a handful of profiteers and collaborators whose main job is to corrode the Palestinian cause and torment the Palestinian people on Israel”s behalf.”
“I am really happy about what happened in Geneva. It exposed the ugly face of this treacherous entity (the PA). It shows that Abbas and cohorts are treating the Palestinian people as if it were a herd of sheep,” he continued.
“These people must be tried and punished for their crimes against our people,” affirmed Atwan.
It is not exactly certain why the PA leadership decided to take a decision that is widely, even universally viewed, as scandalously politically incorrect, manifestly detrimental to the Palestinian cause.
According to reports from Ramallah, Abbas decided unilaterally, without consulting any of his aides or indeed decision-making bodies, such as the executive committees of Fatah and the PLO, to authorize Khreisha to postpone discussion of the Goldstone report until March.
Abbas’ decision to this effect reportedly was taken a few hours after a brief meeting in his office with US Consul-General in East Jerusalem Jacob Walles who told the Palestinian leader that pursuing the Goldstone Report would isolate Israel and seriously undermine the ability of the Obama Administration to restart stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
One report alleged that the main reason behind Abbas’ decision was to avert an Israeli threat to refuse to license a new mobile-phone company called “Al-Wataniya” which is partially owned by one of Abbas’ sons.
Nonetheless, it is widely assumed that the main reason behind the decision to defer discussion of the Goldstone Report had to do with Israeli threats to expose PLO and PA connivance with Israel in pursuing the war against the Gaza Strip.
According to reports published in the Hebrew press, Abbas and a number of his aides urged Israel during the war on Gaza to crush Hamas, irrespective of the consequences, even if this meant the death of thousands of Palestinians.
One recorded tape reportedly showed PA official Tayeb Abdul Rahim, a personal aide of Abbas, urging an Israeli army general to overrun the Jabalya refugee camp.
The Israeli general told Abdul Rahim that such an operation would leave thousands of Palestinian civilians dead and injured.
At this point, the PA official was claimed to have said “let them be killed. They voted for Hamas and they deserve death”.
Hamas had accused the PA of “conniving with Israel” during the winter war against the Gaza Strip by passing to Israeli army a list of “targets” that should be bombed by the Israeli air-force. The PA denied the charges or remained reticent.
What is clear though is that the PA leadership in Ramallah hoped that the Israeli blitz would finish off Hamas and allow the Fatah organization to re-conquer Gaza either with direct Israeli backing or as a result of a popular uprising against Hamas in the coastal enclave.
Meanwhile, Abbas is struggling to save his own neck, as a growing number of Palestinians are demanding his resignation.
The Palestinian leader has ordered a prompt probe into the embarrassing affair headed by PLO executive committee member Hanna Amira.
However, many pundits in occupied Palestine view with suspicion a PLO investigation of itself by itself.
Abbas is the head of both the PA and the PLO, as well as the Fatah organization.
Furthermore, Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat said that the PA was now seriously considering asking the Arab and Muslim block to officially take the Goldstone commission’s report to international bodies.
“President Abbas is seriously studying the possibility of asking the Arab and Muslim bloc to officially take the Goldstone Report to international bodies, including the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council,” Erekat has been quoted as saying.
However, critics dismiss these belated efforts as merely attempts at damage control, given the magnitude of public fury and indignation.
Zakariya Muhammed is a secular leftist intellectual who has castigated the PA leadership for what he called “the Geneva folly”.
“We want to know why he (Abbas) took the decision? Did he realize that the Palestinian political establishment would reject it? And, if he did, then he must have abused his powers and authority. Did he think that the matter was not that important. Well, if he did, then he must be lacking the ability to think rationally and wisely [to] appreciate the interests of the Palestinian people,” said Muhammed.
“In any case, he committed a cardinal sin. He breached the trust of his people,” he continued.
Amira Hass, a prominent Israeli journalist, seems to completely concur.
Writing in Ha’aretz on October 6, she pointed out that Abbas had effectively betrayed thousands of Palestinians, their supporters abroad, and Israeli anti-occupation activists who had been toiling to ensure that the legacy of the Israeli military onslaught against Gaza wouldn’t be consigned to the garbage bin of occupying powers obsessed with their feelings of superiority.
“In a single phone call to his man in Geneva, Mahmud Abbas demonstrated his disregard for popular action, and his lack of faith in its accumulative power and the place of mass movements in processes of change,” she stressed.
Apart from Abbas, the Fatah organization stands to lose dearly in terms of its popularity, especially vis-à-vis Hamas, If no corrective measures are taken immediately, including the possible sacking of officials responsible for misstep in Geneva.
However, it seems unlikely that radical measures will be taken in this regard given the tight control of Abbas and his allies on the decision-making process within Fatah, the PA, and the PLO.
“Fatah will be losing public support in any case,” one Fatah official said.