Limpid Left, Take Note: Abbas Is Our Only Hope

Neither Palestinians nor sane Israelis can afford to give up on Abbas, who has exposed the Israeli policy of refusal.

Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat
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A masked Palestinian boy holds a picture of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during a Fatah demonstration in a West Bank village near Nablus, April 4.
A masked Palestinian boy holds a picture of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during a Fatah demonstration in a West Bank village near Nablus, April 4. Credit: Reuters
Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat

Daniel Levy, Middle East Director at the European Council on Foreign Relations, best described the farce. “Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) can now return to his people and declare: I didn’t get the 1967 borders, I didn’t get a foothold in Jerusalem or any sovereignty. What I did get was a continuation of construction in the West Bank settlements. And the good news is that, under these terms, I’m requested to recognize the Jewish state.” On my way to a symposium held by Molad: The Center for the Renewal of Democracy, where Levy spoke, there was a report on the radio about a rapist who had recorded two of his victims "admitting" that sexual relations were consensual. The Academy for the Hebrew Language should now add to its list of new terms “consensual rape."

At the same time, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who a few years ago whispered into Mahmoud Abbas’ ears that he should not negotiate with former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, since he was politically defunct, is now threatening the Palestinians with sanctions. The words are Livni’s but the policy, clad in respectable clothing, is Naftali Bennett’s.

Capping last week’s headlines was opposition leader Isaac Herzog’s declaration that, instead of formulating an alternative to Benjamin Netanyahu’s policy of bluffing, he laid the blame squarely at the feet of both Abbas and Netanyahu. The Labor Party’s hypocrisy is blatant. At the same symposium, MK Stav Shaffir said that the Labor Party has no way of influencing the negotiations. Really? What is this party feeding its leaders? How can an impressive leader of a protest movement like Shaffir stand on the sidelines as an observer when the policies of the Israeli right are so dangerous for both sides? In Israel today, the left is dabbling in social issues while the right is galloping along unimpeded on the political front.

Herzog’s words blend in well with those of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who said that Israel has contributed its part to the negotiations and now it’s the Palestinians’ turn. Lieberman is right. It’s inconceivable that elite Palestinian units will continue to surround Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem and sort through incoming packages, confiscating scented candles that they claim resemble phosphorescent bombs. It’s time Abbas realized that as long as residents of Ramot Denya neighborhood in Haifa have to pass through five Palestinian checkpoints on their way to the beach there will be no peace.

Thus, what is labelled the Israeli left is in reality only the washed out backup for the right. The funny thing is that there are some who use the ultra-Orthodox anti-Zionist Neturei Karta (Guardians of the City) group as an excuse for the deadlock. Let us first find in which cave the left is hiding -- then we'll find the Guardians of the City it has engendered. Obviously, producing apples requires trees, whereas the left is only a lawn, making Netanyahu’s steps more pleasant as he walks over it on the way to the abyss.

Thus, when there is no Israeli partner and no meaningful left in this country, all we have is Abbas, the hope for both peoples. He is the one who acted against all odds during the period of the worst terror attacks, telling his people in public squares and not in closed rooms that only through a popular struggle and not an armed one, would they ever obtain their rights. He was not deterred when Palestinians called him a collaborator and Israelis termed him a featherless chick. He was the one who convinced his people that the struggle to build a state is no less important than the one to end the occupation. He stood as a bulwark against the impossible challenge the world posed before him with the "roadmap," trying to stop the attacks which were inflicting disasters on the Palestinian side as well. He was the one who placed the Palestinians in the correct context, describing them as victims of Israeli aggression and of the Arab world's castigation.

Abbas now exposes, to the shame of the Israeli left, the Israeli policy of refusal, in which the objective is to maintain the process of negotiating, rather than actually reaching a peace agreement. Palestinians and sane Israelis don’t have the luxury of giving up on Abbas. Leaders of his stature are not found every day. We must say loud and clear to both peoples: Support Abbas. Such support is imperative for every seeker of peace in Israel, Palestine or anywhere else in the world.

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