I don’t know if Mahmoud Abbas loses any sleep these days, but maybe he will after reading this post! I hear that he has complained that Iran has paid off Hamas to hold back on implementing the recently-formed reconciliation deal between the two groups. Talking of money, Gulf Arab states supporting the Palestinian Authority financially are well behind on their promised payments and don’t seem to be responding to even Western and UN appeals to stump up what’s needed to fill the PA’s “funding gap” (good phrase meaning “overdraft” – must try that on my bank manager). Perhaps this is why representatives from the PA are now forced to negotiate with Israel for a release of taxes instead of prisoners!
This week UNESCO presented a report on the PA’s progress to the EU Palestinian donors’ conference. The report says that, “The Palestinian state-building achievement is at increased risk” and gives finances and a lack of “a credible political horizon” as the main reasons. Shortened, equals “lack of money and lack of progress on peace with Israel”. This is part of the same UN that gave Abbas such a rousing reception when he announced his bid for recognition of a non-existent Palestinian state. The UNESCO does acknowledge huge progress on the economic front; progress that could only have been achieved through economic ties and interchanges with Israel.
The PA, a ‘child’ of the PLO, took a big gamble when it decided to exchange stalled peace talks for a totally different tack and took its case to the UN. While the Security Council was never going to give them the green light, the UN is now indicating that even appeals to the General Assembly for recognition may not be successful. And the bid for statehood itself is now bogged down in a committee!
As if all this wasn’t enough, the world’s attention has moved several hundred miles Eastwards as the West tries to stop Iran going nuclear; the size of the headache this is giving everyone in the region much bigger things to talk about than the (comparatively) much smaller woes and being forgotten about is not helpful to the Palestinian cause.
Maybe the accumulation of all these factors is what has forced Mr Abbas to put pen to paper to President Obama and suggest a return to the negotiating table – only on condition that Israel….
Mahmoud Abbas is not a strong political figure. He does not have the same support, or charisma, of his predecessor Yassr Arafat. Furthermore the Palestinians in general are not held in high regard throughout the Middle East. I often get the feeling that the Middle East is tiring of supporting a cause that is going nowhere, doesn’t bring any obvious benefits and is only a cause because it can be used as a tool against Israel. Perhaps, if Mr Abbas loses enough sleep over his problems, he might even begin to consider making compromises to restart the peace process. Now that would balance things out a bit, wouldn’t it.