THE ANGRY ARAB: Abbas & His Latest ‘Threat’

As`ad AbuKhalil provides an unsparing assessment of the leader of the Palestinian Authority and his declaration of ending security coordination with the U.S. and Israel.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. (

By As`ad AbuKhalil
Special to Consortium News

For the umpteenth time, Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, has threatened to sever “security coordination” with Israel and the U.S. 

This time, he convened what he calls “Palestinian leadership” (a euphemism for the corrupt clique put in place by the U.S. and Israel in Ramallah following the death of Yasser Arafat in 2004) and read from a statement (while joking with aides) about this intention.

He even added that his Authority is no longer bound by agreements with Israel, though his very post and the Authority itself was engendered by the agreement with Israel, and his movement and the movement of his aides are coordinated regularly with the Israelis.

Abbas promises he is serious this time. He often precedes this threat by announcing the formation of special committees to implement decisions in question. In all previous cases, however, committees never met and no decisions were ever implemented. 

This time around, it was announced that the CIA was informed that the Palestinian Authority will be ending its security coordination.  But why would the PA need to notify the CIA or the Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence agency, or Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, of the impending end of security coordination, if the goal is to end all security coordination?  Does he want to coordinate the end of coordination?

The Arab and international press are skeptical about the announcement, given his numerous previous threats. Abbas promised to sue Israel in the International Criminal Court, but he never followed through for fear of displeasing his American sponsors (especially during the pre-Trump era). Since then, despite the rift with the Trump administration he has still not followed through.

Threats by Abbas are either met with scorn, ridicule or utter disregard. This is a man who has no credibility or legitimacy left and is awaiting his final end on this Earth. Given his age (84), he is now more reluctant to make additional compromises and concessions to Israel because Palestinians will already be harsh in judging his role in the history of the Palestinian National Movement.

Hugely Unpopular

The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin Effendi el-Husseini. (Wikimedia Commons)

No Palestinian leader since Hajj Amin Husseini, who led the Palestinian national struggle from the 1930s until the 1950s, and stigmatized the Palestinian national movement through his association with Hitler’s regime, has been more vilified by his people. 

This is a man whose funeral will be met with the popular silence that accompanied the death of Anwar Sadat, whose funeral was most memorable for the absence of the Egyptian people and the heavy presence of American and Western dignitaries.

But what is this “security coordination” that Abbas keeps threatening to end?

Since 1993, when the Palestinian Authority was set up following the Oslo accords, the Palestinian leadership — which Israel approved and permitted to set up shop in Ramallah — was required to submit regular reports to the Israeli authorities about any news of resistance activities.  The Israeli government then uses that information to attack Palestinian neighborhoods and villages, and to perpetrate assassinations.

Under Arafat and Abbas after him, the Palestinian Authority would arrest and subject to torture any Palestinian accused of engaging in anti-Israeli activities.  Even Western human rights organizations (which are blatantly biased in favor of the Israeli occupation) have documented cases of torture by the Palestinian Authority and by Hamas under its rule in Gaza.

Torture & Spying

Palestinians who died (and continue to die) in Israeli prisons have been also dying in Palestinian prisons — and sometimes from torture.  The U.S. and Israel basically wanted a replica of Arab regimes inside the West Bank in order to protect Israel from Palestinian acts of retaliation.  Oslo was designed according to the racist mindset of U.S.-Israel: that Palestinian lives are dispensable, and that Israeli lives are precious and should be protected at all costs.

Security coordination was basically an implementation of the U.S.-Israeli vision of the role of the Palestinian Authority, namely that it should be spying on its people and imposing a rule of repression to force unpopular accords on the people of Palestine.

“Security coordination” necessitated the creation of Palestinian security forces and intelligence services. Both were created, designed, and sponsored by the CIA, with close coordination of the Mossad.  And the role of the CIA’s assistance was not only in material and financial support, but also the enforcement of draconian rules and torture of Palestinian dissidents.

Israeli soldiers in Palstinian city of Hebron, 2004. (Wikimedia)

Israeli soldiers in Palstinian city of Hebron, 2004. (Wikimedia)

The Palestinian Authority was even required to suppress political freedoms of the Palestinian people to prevent what Israel and U.S. call “incitement,” a reference to nationalist rhetoric that expresses longing for the Palestinian homeland and opposition to the Zionist project. 

The U.S. Congress conditioned U.S. assistance on the extent to which the Palestinian Authority suppresses and represses its people to make Israeli occupation less menaced or even opposed.  Shockingly, the Palestinian Authority fulfilled its obligation.

Meanwhile, Israel paid very little attention to the terms of the Oslo accords. It did not bother to distinguish between Areas A, B and C (where, ostensibly, the Palestinian would either have sole authority, joint authority with Israel or no authority at all) and it continued to raid various cities and villages, and to send its drones and fighter jets to attack Palestinian targets and, typically for Israel, with disregard for the distinction between civilians and combatants.

No Leverage 

It is highly unlikely that the Palestinian Authority will stick to its announced decision to end “security coordination” with Israel or the U.S. 

Abbas, foolishly, left his movement without any alternate options or leverage.  And the budget of the PA requires constant provision of proof of good conduct towards the U.S. and Israel. (Until last year, the U.S. provided financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority as a reward and enticement for services rendered to the Israeli occupation, while Israel would transfer taxes levied on Palestinians who worked in Israel). 

Since the U.S. pressured all Arab governments to either end, or substantially reduce, funding for the PA and for the PLO, the PA became increasingly dependent on the U.S. and EU for its bloated budget, in an administration notorious for mismanagement and outright corruption.  The U.S. and EU did not mind the corruption of Abbas and his cronies as long as they were providing intelligence on the Palestinian people to Israel.

Abbas is willing to take a firmer stand against Israel because the “Deal of the Century” extended by  President Donald Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner left him without any real alternative. How could be agree to a plan that even the Gulf tyrants could not support because it fell well short of the minimum demands of the Palestinian Authority?

Abbas has left himself with no leverage whatsoever; he not only disarmed all Palestinian factions under his rule, he repeatedly declared his renouncement and denouncement of all forms of armed struggle against the occupation.  He sometimes refers to the acceptance of civil resistance, but he has cracked down against peaceful protests in the West Bank.

Abbas will most likely resume “security coordination” under pressure from Gulf governments and the EU. A promise of disbursement of funds will be enough to sway him.

While the chances of resuming relations with the Trump administration are rather unlikely, he could very well resume negotiations under successor administrations — assuming he is still alive.

Abbas has fulfilled the role that was dictated to him by the U.S. and Israel, but at the expense of his national legitimacy with his own people.  It is for that reason, that he has been avoiding holding elections that would prove to be more embarrassing than the last ones in 2006.

In the meanwhile, Abbas hopes that Palestinians will be less harsh in their judgment of his role because of this last stand of his.  But that is highly unlikely.  The Arab popular verdict against him was rendered many years ago, and it is unforgiving. 

As’ad AbuKhalil is a Lebanese-American professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus. He is the author of the “Historical Dictionary of Lebanon” (1998), “Bin Laden, Islam and America’s New War on Terrorism (2002), and “The Battle for Saudi Arabia” (2004). He tweets as @asadabukhalil

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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6 comments for “THE ANGRY ARAB: Abbas & His Latest ‘Threat’

  1. acm
    May 28, 2020 at 19:47

    Funny how many matches–cartoons in particular–show up if you search for: ‘Abbas Quisling’.

    • Karin Brothers
      May 31, 2020 at 20:35

      Husseini’s actions against Jews only occurred after the Zionists’ ethnic cleansing of Palestinians had started.

      Does it benefit Palestinians to apologize for their attempts to push back or does it play into the propaganda that portrays Palestinians as “worse than the Nazis” and justifies their abuse on that account?

      I think it’s time for Palestinians to stop being on the defensive for any acts of resistance to what has happened to them.

  2. May 28, 2020 at 15:11

    Questions about the Palestinian and Israeli relationship.

    1. Is a two state solution viable?

    Answer: No, it never has been and proponents either are misinformed or cynically promote it knowing the Israelis are de facto the real government and within its jurisdiction operates open air prisons for the Palestinians.

    2, Is a one state solution possible with equal rights for all Jews and Arabs inside its borders?

    Answer: There is no other answer which satisfies the requisite of equality, human dignity and justice.

    3. Is there the remotest possibility that it can happen?

    Answer: After writing about and reading about the issue for years and spending the last few weeks daily reading Haaaretz, there is reason to be optimistic. For example, the coronavirus epidemic has bought to the fore the understanding that Palestinians inside Israel are making contribution in combatting coronavirus far greater than their numbers. Ordinary Israel Jews are taking notice. Israeli health professionals allegedly treat their fellow health workers as peers. Palestinians are enrolling in Israel’s universities in increasing numbers. The Zionists who founded Israel and many around today have rigged the system to make it difficult to create such a state, e.g.declaring all Jews can view Israel as their country, and making it impossible for the descendants of the Nakhba to come home. Like the rigging of our own democracy to exclude non-European persons, the separation wall cannot stand.

    4. If it happens, how will it happen?

    Answer: Slowly, but it will happen.

    5. What is the future of the Palestinian Authority?

    Answer: Assigned to history trash can unless it sees its goal and a constructive one in creating a single state.

    Just one man’s opinion.

  3. Nathan Mulcahy
    May 28, 2020 at 09:46

    I am not in the Palestinians’ shoes and cannot speak for them. But from my vantage point I have never seen Abbas as anything but a collaborator, and one with no charisma whatsoever.

    May 27, 2020 at 21:49

    Abbas has long been a symbol of Israeli/US dominance rather than any expression of Palestinian hopes.

    When Israel murdered Arafat, it knew what it was doing.

    • AnneR
      May 28, 2020 at 10:35

      And Abbas (along with his sidekicks) demonstrates beyond any shadow of doubt that no matter the people, their collective and individual tragedies, abominable treatment by such as the barbarous “Israeli” regime, there are always some among them who are treacherous, who put their own interests and bank balances before their compatriots. As the majority of the Palestinian population – whether refugees living abroad, in Gaza, the West Bank or those still in the heartland of Palestine – know only too well. So many Palestinians have been willing to chance torture, long imprisonment, the loss of homes, loved ones and their own death to return to their *rightful* homes and land: Abbas and his crew are an utter disgrace to their people.

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