Middle East Monitor / October 7, 2021
A political crisis that has cast the spotlight on the illegitimacy of the Palestinian leadership cannot be swept under the carpet by a speech to the UN General Assembly. Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, however, is very partial to diversions if the outcome means that he can hang on to power for a little while longer.
In his meeting with the US Deputy Secretary for Palestinian-Israeli Affairs, Hady Amr, Abbas reportedly referred to his UN speech to emphasize the current, untenable situation. Only it is not simply a “situation”; it is ongoing colonization, and for the sake of maintaining diplomatic ties, Abbas will be treading very carefully, even if this means submitting to US and Israeli demands.
US President Joe Biden appears to have steered Washington back towards internationally-accepted diplomacy, so there is no longer any rhetorical differences about the two-state compromise. However, the Biden administration’s decision to retain many of former US President Donald Trump’s policies means a continuation of his toxic legacy.
So when Abbas pleaded with Amr about the “importance of continuing to strengthen Palestinian-US relations for the benefit of both peoples and countries,” what benefits did he mean?
Before the UN General Assembly convened, Biden reportedly refused requests to meet with Abbas. His own UN speech also refrained from insisting on diplomatic negotiations, while promoting Israel’s security narrative. Clearly, the US sees no benefit in maintaining ties with the PA, unless it is to preserve Israel’s colonial expansion, for which Abbas and the PA are essential pawns.
It is not that Abbas has made the wrong demands to Amr, but the level of complicity which the PA has levelled itself into that renders the meeting a spectacle. The status quo is untenable, Abbas said, but that also goes for the PA remaining at the helm in Ramallah by cancelling democratic elections and the entire world going no further than a mild rebuke for this travesty of a Palestinian leadership.
Abbas’s General Assembly speech may be referenced for a little while longer, particularly the ultimatum addressed to Israel, which is no threat whatsoever, given that Abbas is well-known for backing down on every occasion. Strengthening Palestinian-US relations can only be achieved in one way: total and utter subjugation to US and Israeli demands. Moreover, Abbas knows that the US would not relish a political vacuum in place of the PA. Hence, the exploitation of the Palestinian cause is the diplomatic option at hand.
Neither is it too difficult to read between the lines of what Abbas is hinting at. The PA’s political crisis needs a saviour for as long as the authority is necessary in terms of Israel’s colonial expansion.
When the US meets Israel’s demands to maintain the status quo, which it commits to on an annual basis, it is also allowing the PA a share in power, which it uses against the Palestinian people for Israel’s benefit. Abbas can plead with the US to end all Israeli violations, but while the PA is using the same violations to keep itself in power and control the Palestinian people, who does Abbas think he is fooling? Definitely not the Palestinians or, come to think of it, the US.
Ramona Wadi is an independent researcher, freelance journalist, book reviewer and blogger; her writing covers a range of themes in relation to Palestine, Chile and Latin America