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Hang on, Mahmoud, Mahmoud Hang On

“Hang on Sloopy,
Sloopy hang on”

Hang On Sloopy, The McCoys

Obama’s desperate.  Even certain unnamed Israeli officials are desperate.  Mahmoud Abbas has had it with U.S. wimpitude and Israeli nyetitude and threatened to resign.  He raises the specter of the dismantlement of the PA, which might force Israel to resume adminstration of the West Bank–something Israel devoutly wishes to avoid.  Alternatively, Abbas raises the possibility of a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood blessed by the Security Council.

So how does the Obama administration respond?  According to the NY Times’ Ethan Bronner, with the usual bromides and half measures…hang on, Mahmoud they beg:

American and Israeli officials are contemplating a series of steps to persuade Mr. Abbas to stay. They include a marked intensification of security and economic coöperation, more money, invitations to Western capitals, robust statements of support, prisoner releases and efforts to draw Arab states more fully into the process.

I mean really.  What in this list is substantive and anything more than window dressing?  Doesn’t Obama realize that even those gluttons for punishment, the Palestinians, will see through this empty gesture.  Does the U.S. think that the PA can live by “robust statements of support??”  And how will they draw the Arab states into the process when they’ve desperately tried to do so and failed thus far?  If this wasn’t so f’ing serious I’d actually be laughing.  This gives Abbas everything but what he really needs: genuine accomplishments.

Israelis understand “facts on the ground.”  That’s what they used to call settlements in the days when Ariel Sharon was Housing minister and building a settler presence in the Territories.  That’s what Mahmoud Abbas wants.  Not rhetoric, not statements, but genuine facts on the ground.  Barack and Bibi–if you can’t muster that you might as well just close up shop and go home.  Then you can leave the field to the wild-eyed men of hate on both sides.  Let the bombs fly for that the language of violence is the only speech the two sides seem to apprehend.

Why in God’s name would Abbas want to stay under these conditions?  He’d be crazy to do so.  Better to resign and retain some dignity than continue and be the butt of Palestinian jokes and worse and the object of Israeli condescension.

Ever the pro-Israel Pollyana, Bronner can’t avoid throwing a bone to Salaam Fayyad’s ridiculous two-year plan for Palestinian statehood–a plan which is something like telling the Planning Commission what your plans would have been for a piece of property that’s on fire and in the process of burning down:

Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, opposes seeking international recognition of a state. Instead, he has put forth a two-year plan aimed at building institutions and security so that the future state will be strong, transparent and well-run.

We might as well call a spade a spade.  At this rate, the much vaunted Obama peace initiative is dead and we will have to look elsewhere for ways to advance the peace process; or at least prevent it from falling even farther into the ditch than its already gone.  Similarly, with Obama butting his nose out of the I-P conflict, this leaves the Netanyahu government free and clear to pursue virtually any policy it wishes to continue the Occupation and further the aims of Judaizers seeking to evict Palestinians and further constrain their presence in Jerusalem and the West Bank.  This leaves the Israeli right triumphant at least for the time being.

I hope I’m wrong.  I hope Obama, who seems to be a gifted and persevering fellow, can surprise me.  But the record to this point doesn’t augur well for that.

That means that processes and peace activism spearheaded by the human rights NGOs like the BDS movement and the Goldstone Report will become even more important than they already are.  If the powers that be aren’t yet prepared to do the right thing and bring the Israeli Occupation to its knees, then the world progressive community will have to continue and intensify its campaign.  And Israel and its supporters should expect the continuation of the erosion of its support in the world.  They should expect intensifying cries for justice in international legal venues.  Pressure will mount even if it won’t be coming from governments like the U.S. or EU.  The punishment will come slowly and gradually till eventually it will be death (of the Occupation) by a thousand cuts.

{ 13 comments… add one }
  • Mary November 19, 2009, 6:31 AM

    You would think that Netanyahu would have the brains to realize that stealing land alone will not make Israel stronger. In this world you need friends, and Israel has fewer and fewer of them. It needs to make friends with its neighbors in the middle east but continues to alienate and antagonize them, not only over the issue of Palestine but also in its tireless pursuit of conflict with Iran.

    Obama, like his predecessors, continues to coddle Israel even after issuing words of criticism. Netanyahu is comfortable with this and has no fear of punishment by the US for anything Israel does, and he depends on US defense and support before the UN Security Council, as well as his well-paid lobbyists in Washington. He’s skating through this settlement thing, building popularity with his right-wing settler supporters. In the end, he’s protecting his coalition, and that is why he refuses to cooperate in a settlement freeze.

  • Brett November 19, 2009, 11:37 PM

    In this world you need friends, and Israel has fewer and fewer of them. It needs to make friends with its neighbors in the middle east but continues to alienate and antagonize them, not only over the issue of Palestine but also in its tireless pursuit of conflict with Iran.

    Netanyahu’s probably like a lot of hawks on the issue. Aside from the religious-nationalist aspect (“God gave us this land”), he’s short-sighted (my guess is that he probably doesn’t look more than a year ahead on most issues, seeing as his coalition has a decent chance of collapsing by then), and deeply pessimistic about his neighbors. He probably thinks that the “Arabs” will never accept a Jewish state or even a significant Jewish presence in historic Palestine, and will just use whatever concessions Israel makes to destroy them.

    If you think an enemy is just going to stab you in the back, why get close enough to him to do so?

    Not that I support that thinking, but that’s my guess.

    • Mary November 20, 2009, 5:09 AM

      It is the same ol’ same ol’ with Israel – paranoid to the point of creating enemies where they do not exist. The existential threat they see everywhere around them. They have to be Bob Dylan’s “Neighborhood Bully,” not realizing that they create enemies where they did not have them in the past. They’re still busy antagonizing Lebanon, and they’re playing cat-and-mouse games with Syria. Oh, and let’s not forget how they’re constantly after Iran, and pushing for war. When you add this to what they do to the Palestinians on a daily basis, they’re not a very good neighbor.

  • Rafi November 20, 2009, 5:15 AM

    the offer to Abbas to keep him afloat is a recognition of a state today, with a guarantee that in two years that state will be on a land mass that is equal to the West Bank.

    Beilin warned that if Bibi (and Obama) embrace this plan publicly the PA will dissolve itself -which can happen regardless- because part of the deal is recognising Israel as a Jewish state, and deadlines were proven wrong in the past.

    Abbas said yesterday that Israel and Hamas are secretly negotiating in Switzerland, and these are not the prisoners-deal negotiations that takes place in Cairo with German help.

    z violent escalation is just what Bibi and Barak want, don’t indulge them, non-violent and diplomatic pressures are a diff matter.

    the world progressive movement should have bigger fish to fry than the Israeli Occupation. nice that you consider the report as political football btw, just the reason Israel didn’t play along with it.

    Obama peace initiative? what, the Cairo speech? Kalam fadi.

    • Shirin November 20, 2009, 7:59 PM

      Do you guys make this s*** up off the tops of your heads, or does someone feed it to you so you can regurgitated it at will?

  • Mary November 20, 2009, 5:40 AM

    “the world progressive movement should have bigger fish to fry than the Israeli Occupation.”

    Should, or does?

    I think 1,440 dead people last winter, an occupation of more than 61 years, and a situation of central importance to the issue of world peace and security is a pretty big fish. I don’t know about you.

  • Shirin November 20, 2009, 8:00 PM

    Of course they want Mahmoud to hang on – he’s their bastard.

    • Mary November 21, 2009, 8:38 AM

      He is their quisling, they have manipulated him for years, and only now has he realized it fully, I think. And most people do not understand what the Palestinian Authority actually is – it is an arm of the Israeli occupation. For this reason many Palestinians consider him a traitor who has toiled to support and advance the occupation. The US may be sad to see him go, and the Israelis (as well they should), but the Palestinian people may think differently.

      • Shirin November 21, 2009, 9:30 AM

        Oh, I don’t think Mahmoud `Abbas was ever unaware of what was going on at all. After all, collaborating with the Israelis has payed off beautifully for him. It has brought him wealth and power, an opulent lifestyle, and a degree of freedom that most Palestinians cannot even dream about. I think he and the other collaborators have known all along exactly what was going on. The illusion that they did it all for Palestine and the people is not one they share.

      • Shirin November 21, 2009, 9:35 AM

        PS And this is exactly why so many Palestinians who are not Hamas supporters nevertheless voted for Hamas in 2006. Hamas has not walled themselves off in fancy mansions on the tops of hills off the proceeds of collaboration. Hamas has been in the trenches with the rest of the Palestinian people, providing vital services for them that no one else would, and fighting for freedom. Whether we or the Palestinians who voted for them see Hamas as always fighting in the right way, Hamas, unlike Fatah, has been seen, quite realistically, as largely incorruptible.

        • Mary November 21, 2009, 9:48 AM

          Shirin, you’re absolutely correct about Abbas, but I think he deluded himself into believing his situation was going to go on forever. When he was publicly humiliated by Obama and Netanyahu, I think he came to see that he was being used up and thrown away.

          I do not buy for a minute the nonsense that Hamas is a terrorist organization. I don’t agree with firing rockets into civilian areas but I am also aware that Israel’s acts of terrorism against the Palestinians are much greater. Unlike Fatah and the PA, Hamas has dealt honestly in all matters pertaining to cease fires and has complied with all terms and conditions, unlike the Israelis.

          I suspect that Israel actually has done some backdoor supporting of Hamas at least to keep the rift between them and Fatah strong. Material support in the form of money or weapons may be a part of it. It would not surprise me.

          • Shirin November 23, 2009, 12:31 AM

            Of course Hamas is not a terrorist organization, thought it IS an organization that has used terrorism. One of the ironies of all this is that Fatah is itself no stranger to the use of terrorism, and in fact it was Fatah that was responsible for most of the rockets that were fired during last year’s ill-fated ceasefire, while by the Israeli MOD’s own admission, Hamas did not fire a single one until Israel so egregiously (and intentionally provocatively) broke the ceasefire, as it has historically been wont to do.

            I do not believe that Israel has supported Hamas (at least not since its initial nurturance in the ’80’s), and I am not sure that Hamas would accept such support knowing the obligations that would go along with it.

  • Mary November 23, 2009, 6:07 AM

    I think if there is any Israeli support of Hamas, it may be done through various backdoor channels and it would be without Hamas’ knowledge. The reason I suspect there may be covert support is because the existence of Hamas has actually served Israel well. The perpetual enemy supports the need for Israel’s outrageous behavior both in terms of maintaining economic control over the Palestinian people, and it has supported a very lucrative security industry which includes the military and private companies specializing in surveillance. The entire status quo is fine for Israel, in fact. It supports political coalitions, the military, and their economy (much like the US and its wars). I recall the many, many instances of CIA covert actions and meddling throughout history, and I can’t help but wonder if this is not something also happening in Gaza. You must admit, Israel has not taken one solid step towards peace; why should it, when it stands to lose so much?

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