He needs the world to win independence for his nation, and in the eyes of the world, Hamas, with whom he just joined forces, is anathema.
I’m truly hoping that there’s some deep strategic genius on Mahmoud Abbas’ part that I’m missing here, because I keep turning it around and I can’t escape the impression that he has shot the cause of Palestinian independence in the foot by signing a reconciliation agreement with Hamas. And just when the Palestinians seemed ready to go on the march.
The world, including even Washington, blames Israel for the failure of the Kerry peace talks, which means that after their allotted time runs out on April 29, Abbas can go to the UN and turn the world more and more strongly against the occupation, which would set off a chain reaction of international sanctions and boycotts – everybody sees this, everybody is warning Israel about it. But now Abbas has gone and joined forces with Hamas, which has a terrible image in the world – one that’s entirely deserved. If Hamas were to recognize Israel and endorse the two-state solution and agree to land swaps on the West Bank and to compromise on the right of return, as Abbas and the Palestinian Authority have done, then Abbas would have co-opted Hamas in Wednesday’s unity deal, he would have dragged it into moderation, he would have achieved a great coup and would deserve the Nobel Peace Prize.
But does anyone believe that that’s what Hamas is going to do – in other words commit political and, in their eyes, moral, suicide? No, Hamas is going to remain more or less Hamas, a militant Islamist outfit with violently anti-Semitic language in its charter. In terms of winning international support for a Palestinian state alongside Israel, which remains Abbas’ goal, Hamas is an albatross on his back. It’s not just the U.S. which demands that Hamas change its spots as the price of recognition, it’s also the European Union, the United Nations and Russia – the rest of the Mideast Quartet – which Abbas obviously needs in his corner. He had them, too, until Wednesday afternoon when the deal with Hamas was struck – but now?Read More