For One Democratic State
in the whole of Palestine (Israel)


FOR One Man, One Vote



Roll Back, Abbas!

By Israel Shamir 

Mahmud Abbas, the PNA’s president, is about to make a big mistake. So big that it will be a cause for regret for many years to come. He has decided to push for a referendum about whether the Palestinians agree with “The Prisoners’ Agreement”. The Prisoners’ Agreement was made by leaders of Fatah, Hamas and other groups presently in Israeli captivity, so one could think it is a bilateral and non-controversial document. Indeed it is: this agreement says the Palestinians are ready for peace with the Jewish state on fulfilment of three conditions: (1) all POWs should be released; (2) Israel should withdraw to 67’ borders and (3) accept the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees of 1948. The three conditions are fully based upon UN resolutions and on the norms of international law; and there is no slightest doubt Olmert’s government is not going to fulfil them.

When Rabbi Akiba, a Jewish sage of 2nd century AD, got carried away and proclaimed a military commander of the then Jewish Intifada against Rome the Messiah of Israel, his colleagues poured cold water on him: “Sooner will  grass grow on your cheeks than we’ll see the  Messiah”. They were right: Akiba was executed, and his commander was killed, and grass grew on their tombs. Their words are perfectly suitable for the Prisoners’ Agreement: no Zionist government of the Jewish state will ever accept and fulfil these conditions, no matter how much they’d lie to conceal this.

So who needs this referendum? Next thing we know, cats will offer a referendum: peace to dogs, provided they  cease pursuing them! If all Palestinians will answer yea, will it make the Jewish state to tremble and accept the conditions?  No, no, and again no. Fatah and Hamas know that; Abbas understands that, and still he pushes for this meaningless referendum. He is doing this to embarrass the legitimate government of Palestine, for Hamas and Fatah differ on what would happen if these impossible conditions were to be fulfilled: a life-long truce or full peace. This difference is as important for real politics as the difference between eating a boiled egg from the rounded or a sharp end, in Gulliver’s Travels. Even less so: the Lilliputians actually ate eggs, while Hamas and Fatah will never have a chance to test their theoretical difference in real life. This does not mean these three conditions can’t be met; but then, Israel wouldn’t be a Jewish state, and it wouldn’t be led by a Zionist government, and the difference between Hamas and Fatah would be even less relevant at this point.

Hamas is right to reject Abbas’ call. Now is not the time to deal with purely theoretical question of a possible future. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof, or in plain words, each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:34). Worse, Abbas is not playing straight. Though he refers to the Prisoners’ Agreement, he actually means something else: he is ready to agree to “peace” if some prisoners will be released, if in some places Israel will withdraw to the 67’ border, and if some (a token number) of refugees will be allowed back. This is also a legitimate position; but Palestinians can’t accept or refuse it unless the full details of an agreement with Israel were known. Now, in absence of any such agreement, the referendum is not just premature: it is misleading. Let Abbas say frankly: “I want to make peace with the Jewish state and rule over Palestine consisting of three or four cantons, without Jerusalem, and with token release of token prisoners. And forget about the Return” – and then referendum will be unnecessary, for the last elections gave the answer of the people.

This referendum is going to waste one of great achievements of Hamas government – withdrawal of unconditional recognition of the Jewish state made by Arafat and Fatah in the heyday of Oslo. Every agreement must be based on reciprocity: the Palestinians may recognise Israel in 1967 borders if and when Israel recognises Palestine in 1967 borders. Otherwise, Israel will see its 1967 borders as a starting point for future conquests. Hamas returned the Jewish-Palestinian dialogue back to sanity by introducing the concept of reciprocity: and now Abbas wants to surrender this most reasonable demand by recognising the Jewish state unconditionally.

The Jews applied a “moderate physical pressure” (torture, in Shabakese) trying to squeeze this recognition: they besiege Palestine, they steal Palestinian money, block entrances and exits; by their orders no American or European bank dares to trade or transfer money to Palestine. The Jews want Palestinians to surrender; and the referendum may be seen as a sign of surrender. Thus, it would have dire consequences: Hamas’ legitimacy will be called into question by its own electorate; the freedom of manoeuvre so necessary for carrying out negotiations with Olmert’s government will be severely limited; the split within Palestinian society will become a fait accompli.

The Zionists tempt Abbas to grasp more power than is due to him; to interfere with rightful choice of the people; to disregard the election of Hamas. Abbas took the bait: he succumbed to the Zionist temptation. He forgot that he is the President of all Palestinians and preferred to be the king of Fatah. He forgot that just a few months ago, Sharon and Olmert proclaimed him “irrelevant” and “not a partner” – now he dreams of crawling back to empty negotiations. This call for referendum is accompanied by the  beefing up of Abbas’ own private army. Israel’s wet dream is to have a civil war between Palestinian groups, and this rash step of Abbas leads on the way to Hell. He should remember that undermining  Hamas will not solve the problem; it will rather undermine legitimacy of his PNA. Before it’s too late, Abbas should rise up to the occasion and roll back his troops and his demands.