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Bibi’s Cheap Trick on Abu Mazen

Back in the days of old (rock oldies, that is) there used to be a rock band called Cheap Trick. I don’t remember anything about its music other than that there was a lot of electric guitar flourish and flash. The most memorable thing about it was its name, which was suitably cynical and well, cheap. It was ‘of’ the era that spawned it.

Bibi Netanyahu too lives in a sort of time warp in which everything goes his, and Israel’s way.  And if it doesn’t, he does his best so that by hook or by crook things will (hence, the cheap trick).  That includes the current Kerry-led peace negotiations.  It’s hard to tell whether they’re going badly or not, though instinct tells me they must be, since you have a least one interlocutor who doesn’t want an agreement.

There are a number of different categories for Israeli official leaks.  There are military-intelligence leaks and there are leaks from the political echelon.  There are leaks offering accurate and genuine information; and there are leaks that smell so bad not even a hungry dog would touch them.  The latter is the sort of leak emanating (Hebrew) from Bibi’s inner circle and published by a dutiful Maariv ‘stenographer.’  It claimed that the Israeli side was growing weary of Mahmoud Abbas as a “partner” and was investigating installing Mahmoud Dahlan, the corrupt former Fatah strongman, in his stead.  The article claimed that the Israeli prime minister had dispatched his trusted envoy, Yitzhak Molcho, to Dahlan’s retreat in exile in Dubai, where the Israelis made their offer.

Dahlan, in the meanwhile, denied this virtual “kiss of death” claim by the Israelis in the pages of Maan.  To be endorsed by Israel is a virtual death sentence in the eyes of most Palestinians.  How Israel would manage to topple Abbas and replace him with the hated Dahlan doesn’t seem part of the discussion.  For good reason, because it would and could never happen.  Unless  of course, Israel permanently ‘dispatched’ Abbas, as many believe it did to Yasser Arafat.

Dahlan would be the sort of Arab leader Israel loves: corrupt, violent, autocratic.  A man who can be bought and kept.  Everything Israel has lost with the fall of autocrats like Mubarak (though Israel loves the “new” Mubarak, al-Sisi).

The sheer chutzpah on Bibi’s part, that he would think that leaking such a blatant lie (I’ve confirmed that it is through my own Israeli source) would exert any sort of pressure or anxiety within Abbas is preposterous.  It’s like playing a mind game in which you cynically believe your opponent shivers in fear of your every move.  This only goes to prove the absolute imbalance in these negotiations with Kerry siding with the Israelis in most things (despite the venom spewed at him by settler loyalists) and the Palestinians left hanging out to dry.

Another strange leak was this one picked up by Jerusalem Post from a Palestinian source, which claimed that John Kerry had threatened Abbas, telling him he’d enjoy the same fate as Arafat if he didn’t soften up and sign an agreement.  It’s hard to believe that a U.S. secretary of state would use such language, even in private discussion.  But it isn’t hard to believe that Israel may’ve leaked this story to exert further pressure on Abbas as outlined above.

Saeb Erekat made virtually the same statement a month ago, blaming Israel as the potential assassin of Abbas.

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Oui February 7, 2014, 3:26 PM

    You’re not too serious about these reports? ILMAO in recent months as these stories evolve and evaporate in a matter of days. It’s like background noise, it distracts from the real issues that are on the table in the negotiations for a framework to be set this month.

    About Kerry’s remarks on Abbas. The description I’ll buy into is a repeat of the failure of Arafat in 2000 with the last months Bill Clinton tried to close a deal. Wasn’t Indyk also part of the negotiating team back then? No death threats.

    More interesting is the aricle – US Orthodox groups blast anti-Kerry letter. Also the JPost article Avigdor Liberman supports Secretary Kerry and opposes Bennett in criticism of the negotiations.

    I try to focus on the real views and news on the I-P discussions, obviously we won’t find out until Kerry tells us and unfolds the framework for end negotiations. I mentioned this earlier, Obama/Kerry are working on a comprehensive deal for the region: Syria, Iran and the I-P issue. Who would have thought Iran’s president Rouhani would say he may recognize the State of Israel if the Palestinian issue is resolved? Never mind the small print.

    One unsuspected event may be more troublesome: the Ukraine. A Kremlin official threatens a break-up of the state. This already has soured the relations between Obama and Putin since the G8 Summit last June. It’s getting worse, Obama is irritated by Putin’s grip on Assad and Syria and doesn’t want Russia in the game. As the Opening Ceremony in Sochi was televised, Obama spoke and said: “US would not spend $50 billion on Olympics.” We can do these venues better at less costs. Putin in reply to the NATO missile shield, develops tactical cruise missiles in violation of the START agreement. Just today a leaked audio was released where US involvement of regime change in the Ukraine was discussed. Toria Nuland used a curse word “F *** the EU” telling off EU negotiatior Catherine Ashton for not being tough enough. Interesting recording and a great move. Chancellor Merkel is fuming over this latest incident.

    Just read the announcement George Bush will receive ADL’s highest award. Enemies of the state unite.

    • Oui February 7, 2014, 9:53 PM

      Nice summary here. Not quite the Olympic spirit.

  • robert grimes February 7, 2014, 6:03 PM

    I think nither side wants peace

  • Bob Reynolds February 8, 2014, 1:54 AM

    Both the US and Israel have been and continue to be involved in assassinations as a matter of national policy.
    I don’t doubt that we are capable of reminding Abbas of what happened to Arafat, perhaps no more than “if you continue on this path you could end up like Arafat”. If they can not resolve the current negotiations in favor of Israel Abbas may well be
    prepared to carry out his threat to join and appeal to other international organizations. So Israel might be interested in
    seeing someone else replacing Abbas particularly since anyone doing so would seem to have to do so through elections.
    It may have been “The Times of Israel” but in one of them I read yesterday there was a discussion of who might replace
    Abbas given his age and health problems. Dahlan headed the discussion.

    What if Abbas agreed to everything Kerry proposes all of it in Israel’s favor? Would Netanyahu want that? Isn’t a failure of the negotiations the desired outcome and the only one that works for Israel?

  • Oui February 8, 2014, 4:26 AM

    In August 2012, it was Avigdor Lieberman who specifically called for removal of Fatah leader Abbas. See article – Israel’s foreign minister wants new elections to replace Palestinian leader Abbas.

    Abbas’ spokesman, Nabil Abu Rdeneh, rejected Lieberman’s statement, calling it an “incitement to violence” that “doesn’t contribute in any way to an atmosphere of peace.” He urged Israel and the international community to condemn the letter.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also sought to quickly disassociate himself from the letter. An official in the prime minister’s office, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said the letter does not represent the government’s position.

    Lieberman, who leads a hardline party in Israel, is known for inflammatory rhetoric that has at times agitated his partners in government.

    Today, Lieberman states his support for John Kerry and it’s Bennett who is in AL’s prior role. And then there is Uri Ariel: “There is no hope coalition will sign peace treaty with Palestinians.”

    Interesting read in JPost, the last throes of the far-right in steps forward to a third state solution?

    Late on Friday, the US welcomed remarks made by Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman earlier in the day defending Kerry and his efforts for peace in the region in light of criticism from Economy Minister Naftali Bennett.

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