Abbas talks tough to the US and Hamas

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he would take legal measures against Hamas after last week’s assassination attempt on Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. (AP)
Updated 21 March 2018
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Abbas talks tough to the US and Hamas

AMMAN: Mahmoud Abbas’s verbal attack against Washington and Hamas in a 14-minute speech on Monday night seemed aimed at self-preservation and securing his legacy.
The Palestinian Authority president upped the ante with Washington, accusing it of shedding “crocodile tears” over the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and he called the US ambassador to Israel a “son of a dog.”
But the president, who will be 83 on March 26, has little to lose as he will start to hand power to a new generation at a meeting of the Palestine National Council on April 30.
Abbas said he would take “national, legal and financial measures” against Hamas after last week’s assassination attempt on Rami Hamdallah, his prime minister and head of Palestinian intelligence. He blamed the bomb attack on Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip and remains bitterly divided from Abbas’s Fatah movement.
Mohammad Laham, a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council from Bethlehem, told Arab News it had become clear that Hamas was involved soon after the attack.
“The visit to Gaza was only known 24 hours earlier and the size of the explosives (30 kg) as well as the choice of the location of the attack, all point that those behind it are not a peripheral group, but a group that is well connected and knowledgeable,” he said.
Abbas’s speech sent a message to the US, which had recently held a meeting in Washington about the humanitarian needs of Gaza. In that meeting, Jason Greenblatt, US envoy to the Middle East, told attendees to “park their politics outside” when discussing Gaza, which is under a long-standing Israeli blockade.
“Unfortunately, we cannot ‘leave politics at the door’ because the crisis in Gaza is a result of right-wing extremist Israeli policies seeping into the rhetoric of the international community,” Dr. Saeb Erekat, PLO secretary general, wrote last week in Newsweek.
The Palestinian president knows that the White House meeting on Gaza was held because Israel is worried about a total collapse in Gaza, as the US plans to cut off millions of dollars in aid to the United Nations Agency Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees.
It seems that by adding to the pressure on Hamas, the Palestinian leader is hoping for either a capitulation of the Islamic movement or for intervention by Egypt, Israel or a combination of forces in which Ramallah would be eventually called on to keep the peace in Gaza. He appears to be applying the well-known Arab proverb “it needs to get bigger before it gets smaller.”
Abbas may be thinking in terms of his reputation and legacy — many Palestinians feel that he has wasted years trying to appease Israel and the US in search of a compromise.
By attacking Washington, he has thrown the dice, but how will he deal with the chaos that will engulf the Strip if external powers decide not to intervene?


US Mideast plan will not include land transfer from Egypt’s Sinai: envoy

Updated 20 April 2019
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US Mideast plan will not include land transfer from Egypt’s Sinai: envoy

JERUSALEM: US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan will not involve giving land from Egypt’s Sinai peninsula to the Palestinians, an American envoy said on Friday.
Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s Middle East envoy, apparently sought to deny reports on social media that the long-awaited plan to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would involve extending Gaza into the northern Sinai along Egypt’s Mediterranean coast.
“Hearing reports our plan includes the concept that we will give a portion of Sinai (which is Egypt’s) to Gaza. False!,” Greenblatt, one of the architects of the proposal, tweeted on Friday.
The American plan is expected to be unveiled once Israel’s newly re-elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu forms a government coalition and after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ends in June.
Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner said on Wednesday the plan would require compromise by all parties, a source familiar with his remarks said.
It is unclear whether the plan will propose outright the creation of a Palestinian state, the Palestinians’ core demand.
The Palestinians have long sought to set up a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, territory Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East War, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
The last round of US-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in 2014.