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.