Of late, Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority appears to be staging recurrent verbal thrills-and-spills extravaganzas. It’s almost as if, when nothing else works, generating headlines constitutes a viable alternative to actual policy and governance.
And so the latest bombshell Abbas attempted to toss was the suggestion that Ramallah might abrogate the Oslo Accords with Israel. It is difficult to fathom who Abbas supposes he may be frightening. If any side has benefitted from Oslo, it is his. After 19 years, Israel can definitely pronounce itself the outright loser of its own risky experiment.
From our vantage point, not only was there no gain but there was a surfeit of inordinate pain. We lost over 1,500 lives – once cynically referred to as “victims of peace.” We nose-dived into a diplomatic nadir of unparalleled detriment.
We constructed two inimical entities – Ramallah and Gaza – within a stone’s throw from Israel’s vulnerable population centers.
We imported between 40,000 to 50,000 armed Fatah terrorists from Tunis (Abbas prominently among them) and had given them and their Hamas rivals legitimacy at the expense of our own legitimacy. We made the creation of a Palestinian state axiomatically accepted everywhere while our own existence is being increasingly questioned.
Worst of all, peace seems more distant now than it did in September 1993, when our situation was incomparably better.
Therefore, at this point in time, Oslo should no longer be dear to any sober Israeli, which brings up the question of why Abbas assumes that he would be startling us with the move he now purports to be seriously weighing.
Yet according to PLO Executive Committee member Wassel Abu Yusef – and he is hardly the first to float this thinly-veiled threat – Abbas has been raising the idea of “canceling the Oslo agreement as well as the associated economic and security arrangements,” in PA leadership consultations.
To delve beneath the surface of Abbas’s bluster it would help to note what accompanies his chatter about nullifying Oslo.
Two themes crop us consistently in this context. The first is that Abbas’s sole substitute for a Palestinian state is a bi-national state which Israel would initially run as an apartheid state – prior presumably to being overrun by Arabs and losing Jewish sovereignty.
This skewed presentation isn’t an Abbas original. It had long been the hallmark of Israel’s domestic left-wing discourse, geared to arguing that the two-state solution is the best offer Israel has, indeed that it is indispensable.
Abbas not only picks on that thread. By stressing the apartheid motif, he again resorts to his persistent ploy of demonizing Israel. He misses no opportunity to blacken our image in a manner far more suggestive of an implacable foe than of a committed peace partner.
Directly in tow, is his appeal for greater handouts from international donors. The PA is in dire financial straits. Despite all the money sunk into it from abroad, it has failed to erect a credible functioning economic infrastructure. Hefty foreign contributions seem to have disappeared down Ramallah’s drain of corruption and/or incompetence. Right now, the PA can’t so much as pay its bills.
All this has taken a menacing turn following near-riots over cost-of-living hikes. And so, Abbas has opted for his habitual remedy – blame Israel, while demanding its assistance. To try and compel Israel into bankrolling him, Abbas now agitates for renegotiating the Paris Protocol, the 1994 addendum to the Oslo Accords that governs economic ties between the two sides.
This isn’t a request of minor substance. It’s hardly a matter of yet another one-sided concession to be squeezed out of Israel in keeping with the pattern whereby it behooves Israel to repeatedly demonstrate goodwill.
We can only hope that the government will not be tempted at a moment of weakness to agree to amend the Paris Protocol. Not only would it lose Israel the paltry control it retains, but it would embolden Abbas to press for more without honoring his part of the Oslo bargain.
Herein lies the problem: Ramallah has consistently betrayed its Oslo obligations. Having serially sponsored terror, incitement and hostile international campaigns, it has plainly tried everything but peace.