Will Abbas take Blinken’s bait?
US security plan aims at aborting a third, armed, intifada
The late Palestinian leader Yaser Arafat atoned for most of his sins, especially the Oslo Accords, by triggering the Second Intifada and choosing to die a martyr. Will his successor Mahmoud Abbas take the same route, completely abandon all security coordination with the Israeli occupation, and also die a martyr? Or will he swallow the bait offered him by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken at their meeting in Ramallah, employ his security forces to abort a third armed Palestinian intifada, and die a traitor?
Israeli media report that Blinken presented Abbas with a security plan aimed principally at taking control of the cities of Jenin and Nablus in the northern West Bank and eradicating the armed resistance groups that are active there, which consist of a mixture of young people from most of the main factions and independents.
The plan was reportedly drawn up by US security coordinator Gen. Mark Fenzel, who envisages training and arming a 5,000-strong Palestinian force that would be deployed to the two cities as quickly as possible.
This force needs to be specially selected and trained (probably in Jordan) because of a lack of trust in the Palestinian Authority’s existing 50,000-strong security forces. There have been many cases of mutiny within their ranks, with members showing sympathy for the Jenin and Nablus brigades and supporting a third-armed intifada — as their predecessors did during the second intifada in 2000.
Biden went to meet and mollify Abbas because he knew the gathering storm of this intifada could pose an existential threat to Israel, because it would not be directly connected to any Palestinian organisation or foreign government, Arab or non-Arab, and would be overwhelmingly supported by Palestinians everywhere and most Arab and Islamic peoples.
The question that needs to be urgently answered is what does Abbas think of this American security plan? He is said to have expressed reservations about some of its provisions. Will he submit to Blinken’s pressure, accept it and start implementing it, and resume security coordination (if it was ever really halted)?
We have no reply yet. All of Abbas’ entourage has been holding their tongues, either for lack of information or under orders. That is because positive or negative replies could bring about the end of the PA: at the hands of the armed uprising if ‘yes’, and at the hands of the Israelis and Americans if ‘no’.
It is to be hoped that Abbas rejects the plan and does not sully his hands with the blood of Palestinian resistance fighters but follows their lead. He has said more than once that he will never die a traitor. It may be helpful to remind him of the 30 years of futile US-sponsored negotiations, and the failure of successive US administrations to live up to their commitments.
This is a historic moment. He does not have long to leave a legacy. So will Abbas do it, say a big ‘no’, and turn the tables on everyone? I have my doubts, given previous disappointments. But good may yet come out of evil.
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