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Is Abbas the last Palestinian Authority president? by Mudar Zahran

After Israel’s most recent military operation in Gaza, which ended with a cease-fire, Hamas has been claiming victory and enjoying popularity with the Palestinians, which comes as a setback for Hamas’s rivals; Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah faction.

With Hamas popularity on the rise, Abbas was left with one desperate option to boost his image: pressing his quest for UN recognition of Palestine as an independent state.

Still, Abbas has other problems in his own house; there is friction within Abbas’s Fatah, as Abbas’s rival, Muhammad Dahlan, is still very influential and has a huge following.

Dahlan was a senior member of the Fatah Central Committee and the chief of the Palestinian Preventive Security Service. For years, he served as the main Palestinian counterterrorism coordination figure with Israel.

Abbas’s Fatah managed to expel Dahlan in June 2011 following allegations by Abbas that Dahlan had murdered Arafat using poison.

Dahlan lives in exile now, but he has the money and the followers to disrupt Abbas nonetheless, if not necessarily to topple him. It is not unlikely that rivalry between Abbas and Dahlan would evolve into further friction between their followers should Abbas exhibit further signs of weakness or step down.

In addition, the Arab Spring has drawn attention from the Palestinian cause as a whole and from Abbas as the poster child for the Arab-Israeli conflict; the media now has Syria, Egypt and other hot-spots to cover over Abbas’s heart-felt speeches, or his meetings with world leaders.

As a result, Palestinians in the West Bank are no longer seeing Abbas in the international media, or mingling with world leaders, and are therefore focusing more on their miserable living conditions, which, as revealed by a recent poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, 70 percent of them believe are due to PA corruption.

Last October, prominent Israeli political scholar and Arabist Mordechai Kedar told a crowd in London that “the biggest victim of the Arab Spring is the Palestinian cause, as the world’s media is no longer occupied with it” – and with the fading significance of the Palestinian cause goes Abbas’s own significance.

Adding to Abbas’s woes is that the Palestinians in the West Bank do not seem to be too enthusiastic about his quest to gain UN recognition for Palestine as an independent state.

While Abbas’s UN stunt succeeded – Palestine is now an observer state in the UN – its very success could cause Abbas’s disappearance from the political scene, because the Oslo peace agreement requires the Palestinians to not unilaterally seek international recognition as a state, and therefore Abbas’s stunt gives Israel the full legal right to end Oslo altogether.

BUT SAY he does disappear, due to a “Palestinian Spring,” a coup by his rivals or even retirement – the man is 77 after all – would the PA survive? First of all, the PA is not favored within its own jurisdiction, as confirmed by the above-mentioned poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. In 2005, renowned scholar Daniel Pipes reported Palestinians under the PA were already saying that “Israel’s hell was better than Arafat’s paradise,” and considering that Arafat had much more credit with the Palestinians than does Abbas, one can only imagine how Palestinians would view a PA without even Abbas.

In fact, a 2011 poll conducted by Pechter Middle East Polls in partnership with the Council on Foreign Relations, when asked if they preferred to become a citizen of Palestine, with all of the rights and privileges of other citizens of Palestine, or a citizen of Israel, only 30 percent chose Palestinian citizenship.”

True, Abbas’s second in command, Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayad, has a reputation for transparency and decency, but since Abbas appointed him in June 2007, the Palestinian Legislative Council has not confirmed his appointment. It is therefore, unlikely he would be able to secure the presidency.

With no heir apparent for Abbas, who could secure public support and control the various military factions? With the PA’s reputation for corruption and the disapproval of it among the Palestinian public, it is possible that the PA’s future will be in jeopardy if Abbas steps down, quits, or retires.

While there are a few who argue that the West Bank should be handed to the Hashemite regime in Jordan, King Abdullah faces his own domestic challenges. Despite the media’s low coverage of unrest in Jordan, there is an on-going, relentless public call to topple the Hashemite regime. Those hoping the Jordanian regime could play a future role in the West Bank ignore the possibility that the Hashemite regime itself might not exist in the near future.

It is about time those concerned with peace and regional stability start considering contingency plans for a West Bank without Abbas, and possibly even without the Palestinian Authority. There is much to consider, and not necessarily as much time.

Confusing The World With the Facts on “Palestine” by Eli Hertz

The Arabs invented a special national entity in the 1960s called the Palestinians, specifically for political gain. They brand Israelis as invaders and claim the geographic area called Palestine belongs exclusively to the Arabs.

The word Palestine is not even Arabic. It is a word coined by the Romans around 135 CE from the name of a seagoing Aegean people who settled on the coast of Canaan in antiquity – the Philistines. The name was chosen to replace Judea, as a sign that Jewish sovereignty had been eradicated following the Jewish revolts against Rome at that time.

In the course of time, the Latin name Philistia was further bastardized into Palistina or Palestine. During the next 2,000 years, What had been renamed Palestine was never an independent state belonging to any people, nor did a Palestinian people, distinct from other Arabs, appear during 1,300 years of Muslim hegemony in Palestine under Arab and Ottoman rule.

Palestine was and is solely a geographic name. Therefore, it is not surprising that in modern times the name ‘Palestine’ or ‘Palestinian’ was applied as an adjective to all inhabitants of the area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River – Palestine Jews and Palestine Arabs alike. In fact, until the 1960s, most Arabs in Palestine preferred to identify themselves merely as part of the great Arab nation or citizens of “southern Syria.”

The term ‘Palestinian’ as a noun was usurped and co-opted by the Arabs in the 1960s as a tactic initiated by Yasser Arafat to brand Jews as intruders on someone else’s turf. He mendaciously presented Arab residents of Israel and the “Territories” as indigenous inhabitants since time immemorial. This fabrication of peoplehood allowed Palestinian Arabs to gain parity with the Jewish people as a nation deserving of an independent state.

Historically, Before the Arabs Fabricated the Palestinian People as an Exclusively Arab Phenomenon, No Such Group Existed

Countless official British Mandate-vintage documents speak of ‘the Jews’ and ‘the Arabs’ of Palestine – not ‘Jews and Palestinians.’

Ironically, before local Jews began calling themselves Israelis in 1948 (the name ‘Israel’ was chosen for the newly-established Jewish state), the term ‘Palestine’ applied almost exclusively to Jews and the institutions founded by new Jewish immigrants in the first half of the 20th century, before independence.

Some examples include*:

• The Jerusalem Post, founded in 1932, was called the Palestine Post until 1948.

• Bank Leumi L’Israel was called the “Anglo-Palestine Bank, a Jewish Company.”

• The Jewish Agency – an arm of the Zionist movement engaged in Jewish settlement since 1929 – was called the Jewish Agency for Palestine.

• The house organ of American Zionism in the 1930s was called New Palestine.

• Today’s Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, founded in 1936 by German Jewish refugees who fled Nazi Germany, was called the “Palestine Symphony Orchestra, composed of some 70 Palestinian Jews.”

• The United Jewish Appeal (UJA) was established in 1939 as a merger of the United Palestine Appeal and the fundraising arm of the Joint Distribution Committee.

Encouraged by their success at historical revisionism and brainwashing the world with the ‘Big Lie’ of a Palestinian people, Palestinian Arabs have more recently begun to claim they are the descendants of the Philistines and even the Stone Age Canaanites.

Based on that myth, they can claim to have been ‘victimized’ twice by the Jews: In the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites and by the Israelis in modern times – a total fabrication.

Archaeologists explain that the Philistines were a Mediterranean people who settled along the coast of Canaan in 1100 BCE. They have no connection to the Arab nation, a desert people who emerged from the Arabian Peninsula.

Contradictions abound, Palestinian leaders claim to be descended from the Canaanites, the Philistines, the Jebusites and the first Christians. They also co-opt Jesus and ignore his Jewishness, at the same time claiming the Jews never were a people and never built the Holy Temples in Jerusalem.

There Has Never Been a Sovereign Arab State in Palestine

The artificiality of a Palestinian identity is reflected in the attitudes and actions of neighboring Arab nations who never established a Palestinian state. It also is expressed in the utterances and loyalties of so-called Palestinians.

Only twice in Jerusalem’s history has it served as a national capital. The first time was as the capital of the two Jewish Commonwealths during the First and Second Temple periods, as described in the Bible, reinforced by archaeological evidence and numerous ancient documents.

The second time is in modern times as the capital of the State of Israel. It has never served as an Arab capital for the simple reason that there has never been a Palestinian Arab state.

The rhetoric by Arab leaders on behalf of the Palestinian Arabs rings hollow, for the Arabs in neighboring lands, who control 99.9 percent of the Middle East land, have never recognized as a Palestinian entity. They have always considered Palestine and its Arab inhabitants part of the great ‘Arab nation,’ historically and politically as an integral part of Greater Syria.

The Arabs never established a Palestinian Arab state when the UN offered a partition plan in 1947 to establish “an Arab and a Jewish state” (they did not term it a Palestinian state, it should be noted). Nor did the Arabs recognize or establish a Palestinian Arab state during the two decades prior to the Six-Day War when area of Judea and Samaria (“West Bank”) was under Jordanian control and Gaza was under Egyptian control; nor did the Palestinian Arabs clamor for autonomy or independence during those years under Jordanian and Egyptian rule.

Well before the 1967 decision to create a new Arab people called ‘Palestinians,’ when the word ‘Palestinian’ was associated with Jewish endeavors, Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, a local Arab leader, testified in 1937 before a British investigative body – the Peel Commission – saying: “There is no such country [as Palestine]! Palestine is a term the Zionists invented! There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries, part of Syria.”

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