‘He is a traitor’ is a phrase you will hear, with the frequency of breathing, when asking Palestinians what they think of Mahmoud Abbas, their president. Feelings are so strong that quotes should be attached to the term ‘president’. Indeed, throughout the 50+ days Gaza war, has shown Abbas to be nothing short of the U.N of presidents- there as a symbol but as ineffective as the world body.
The military and diplomatic focus, throughout the bloody conflict, has chiefly been on Hamas, whom the American/Israeli/Egyptian side regard as terrorists and Palestinians regard as the only resistance to occupation.While Hamas faltered prior to the war, due to a tigtening noose by the Egyptian/Israeli alliance, Hamas’s stock has soared throughout the conflict due to the preception that Hamas has held its own in an asymmetric confrontation with an Israeli side bent on dealing Gaza a heavy blow. But in a dark corner in the West Bank, hlurks a, largely, impotent Abbas with nothing muscualr to his rhetoric. Wars, have historically demanded brusque, clear and overwhelming rationale from leadership. Abbas has been anything but. His chief threat to Israel been repeated declarations that the Palestinian side will join the International Criminal Court (ICC). Most analysts perceive that posture as a measured response to brutalization of a Gazan civilian population. But ‘measured’ is not what a besieged Palestinian population of 1.,2 million in Gaza seek. To begin with Abbas, prior to the war, was seen as a weakened president so consultations with,and the accurate preception of Abbas as Israel, Egypt, America’s ‘man’ has done nothing to strengthen a weakened Abbas hand.
But Abbas may have an ace up his sleave: news reports, in the last 96 hours, have indicated an ‘unconventional solution’ in the works. It stands to reason that this ‘unconventional solution’, in one fashion or another, is related to increasing chatter in the past 12 hours about a longer term cease fire solution. Moreover, if the triumverate, wishes to see a strengthened Abbas overtake Hamas in the Palestinian psyche it is likely he will be seen as the singular personna who brought an end to the fighting. But in international politics not all is what it seems: The silent ineffectual party can be made to look the hero if it fits the agenda of world powers.
Most accurately, Abbas, in the eyes of many, may very well be both ‘a traitor ‘ and ‘inefectual’ but political realities have an iron hand and Abbas may yet, for better or worse, be saved by invisible hands.