Lieberman was right: With Abbas in charge there will be no peace
With either Fatah or Hamas at the helm of the Palestinian people there is absolutely no possibility for long term peace in the region
Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's foreign minister, came under international fire this week for suggesting in a letter to world leaders that the Palestinian Authority should hold new elections to oust current Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Lieberman called Abbas an “obstacle to peace,” stating that, while he was not taking part in terrorism, he was engaged in legal and diplomatic warfare.
As a result of his letter, the Palestinian Authority called for the “criminal” Lieberman to be “fired” and Prime Minister Netanyahu distanced himself from the letter saying Lieberman’s position does not reflect the Israeli government’s.
First things first: memo to the Palestinian Authority – when someone says something you disagree with, it doesn’t make them a “criminal.”
Second, in a democracy, a head of government, particularly the head of a coalition government, can't easily just fire someone. Sure, Netanyahu could try to demote Lieberman from his position as Foreign Minister, but why should he? Lieberman was honest with his characterization of Abbas: the PA Leader is currently in the midst of an epic "hostage" situation, with Israel and the Palestinian people as his hostage.
Despite Israeli concessions like land withdrawals, tax remittance programs, building freezes in Judea and Samaria and direct Israeli aid to the Palestinian Authority, there has been no progress in finding a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Israel has exhausted all measures of goodwill to get the Palestinians to the negotiating table, but the PA leadership refuses.
Abbas has sidestepped Israel in negotiating any final status agreement, instead persisting with anti-Israel activity by continuing to praise murderous terrorists, encouraging international boycotts of Israel and denying Jewish historical significance to the land of Israel.
These dogmatic assertions have perpetuated hatred against Israel in the Palestinian Territories and around the world under the pretense that if you delegitimize at all costs eventually you will get your way. Keep in mind that Lieberman didn’t call for Abbas to be assassinated or thrown in prison, but merely for the Palestinian electorate to have an opportunity to democratically choose a new leader. After all, Abbas was elected in 2004 to serve a four year term of which he is now in his eighth year without re-election.
Perhaps the PA reacted so harshly to Lieberman’s reasonable suggestion because with sky-high poverty, unemployment, and no urgency in negotiating with Israel, Fatah has a slim chance of once again retaining Palestinian support.
The other reason why the PA and Netanyahu may have reacted the way they did is to hide the truth about Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party.
Since 1993, Israel has found itself in quite a conundrum. With the signing of the Oslo Accords, Israel formally recognized the Palestine Liberation Organization as a legitimate Palestinian entity. After years of being branded, correctly, as a terrorist organization by Israel and the international community, suddenly Israel and the United States told Palestinians and the world to recognize this organization as the rightful leaders of the Palestinian people.
Talk about confusion; on one day they are terrorists literally banned from stepping foot inside Israel and the Palestinian Territories, and the next day they are leaders!
In effect, Oslo made a terrorist organization “moderate” and "legitimate" where in the past they would have been viewed as extreme as Hamas.
Now Israel and the international community are forced to work with Mahmoud Abbas as a legitimate leader. Despite Palestinian refusal to host new elections, many still see Abbas as a more moderate version of Yasser Arafat – a belief with no basis.
Abbas was the PLO signatory to the Oslo accords and has been responsible for the funding of numerous terrorist attacks against Israel. He says that even if Israel uproots all of the Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Eastern Jerusalem the Palestinian struggle against Israel will not end.
Let’s not forget that as chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, you are also the de facto chairman of two major terrorist organizations, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Where Lieberman was wrong in his characterization of Abbas is when he stated: “In recent years, we have seen that Mr. Abbas speaks with a moderate and pleasant voice to the international community, but in fact, has been personally acting to undermine attempts to renew the peace process.”
He is wrong because Abbas and Fatah have not been trying to “undermine” the peace process "in recent years,” they have never actually engaged in a serious discussion about peace. Since Oslo, the Palestinian Authority has been offered and declined final status agreements no less than three times, each with a portion of Jerusalem as its capital.
Fatah and Abbas are not a “roadblock” to peace, because a roadblock implies something temporary. With either Fatah or Hamas at the helm of the Palestinian people there is absolutely no possibility for long term peace in the region.
Aaron Marcus is an activist at the Zionist Organization of America
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