Abbas concessions kick-start Trump attempt to resolve Israel-Arab conflict

June 12, 2017 by David Singer
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Three concessions made by Mahmoud Abbas – following pressure placed on him by President Trump – open the way to possible negotiations between Israel, the Palestinian Arabs, Egypt and Jordan to resolve the 100 years old Israel-Arab conflict…writes David Singer.

Abbas has agreed to:

  1. Withdraw his 2014 demand that Israel first agree to freeze building within Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) as a pre-condition to resuming negotiations with Israel.
  2. Tone down his campaign to prosecute Israel for alleged war crimes and rallying condemnation of the Jewish state at the United Nations.
  3. Cease paying salaries to 277 released Hamas prisoners including Director of Hamas’s Political Bureau in the Gaza Strip – Yahya Al-Sinwar.

Israel sentenced Al-Sinwar to four life terms in the late 1980s but released him after 23 years imprisonment in a swap of 1,047 Palestinian prisoners for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006. Al-Sinwar headed Hamas’s first security unit responsible for tracking and killing Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel.

Abbas’s spectacular capitulation comes just two weeks after his reportedly fiery meeting with President Trump in Bethlehem on 23 May – when Trump had stressed:

“.. the importance of creating an environment consistent with the desire for peace”

Trump had then warned Abbas at their subsequent media conference:

“Peace can never take root in an environment where violence is tolerated, funded and even rewarded. We must be resolute in condemning such acts in a single, unified voice.”  

These three Abbas concessions may sufficiently satisfy Trump to pressure Netanyahu to resume negotiations.

However such negotiations – if conducted only between Abbas and Netanyahu – will assuredly fail and end up in the garbage bin of history – joining other unsuccessful negotiations conducted between them over the last ten years – for the following reasons:

  1. Whilst Hamas and Fatah continue their internecine struggle for political control of the Gazan and West Bank Arab populations and refuse to countenance the holding of elections for the first time since 2006 – no permanent peace agreement can emerge from such resumed negotiations.
  2. Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organisation will not abandon their campaigns to wipe Israel off the face of the map – as clearly stated in their respective Charters.
  3. Trump will need to unscramble the following seemingly intractable demands being made by Netanyahu and Abbas if he wants to succeed where so many before him have abjectly failed:
  • Israel being recognised as the national home of the Jewish people
  • Israel retaining military and security control in and over Judea and Samaria (West Bank)
  • any Palestinian State being demilitarised
  • Jerusalem remaining united as the capital of Israel
  • A second Arab State – in addition to Jordan – being created in the territory of the Mandate for Palestine and the capital of that State being located in Jerusalem
  • Israel withdrawing totally from the territories lost by Jordan to Israel in the 1967 Six Day War
  • Palestinian Arabs retaining their claimed right of return to Israel.

Trump may well intend trying to resolve these demands by including other Arab States in any new round of negotiations – as this White House Press Office Readout of Trump’s 23rd May meeting with Abbas tantalisingly suggests:

“The two leaders discussed ways to advance negotiations and considered how Arab states might support those negotiations.”

Egypt and Jordan – enjoying signed peace treaties with Israel since 1979 and 1994 respectively – could be just those States.

Such four-party negotiations – conducted under Trump’s oversight and using his proven skills in successfully negotiating and concluding deals – could be the key to ending the logjam of failed negotiations since 1993.

Hope springs eternal.

David Singer is a Sydney Lawyer and Foundation Member of the International Analysts Network

Comments

8 Responses to “Abbas concessions kick-start Trump attempt to resolve Israel-Arab conflict”
  1. Leon Poddebsky says:

    Mohammad Mustafa, a high-ranking functionary within the “Palestinian Authority” is reported to have asserted that the supposed “concession” regarding the Arab demand for a cessation of building activity in Judea and Samaria, is only TEMPORARY. Some concession.
    Why even this illusory “concession’? To curry favour with the US.
    The Israeli government asserts that the PA is continuing to pay bounties for the murder of Jews, but the US Secretary of State, perhaps disingenuously, asserts otherwise.
    Any one who trusts the word of the Palestinian governing “elite” is naive and has learnt nothing from their long record of mendacity, fraud and deception.

    • david singer says:

      Leon

      Abbas’s three concessions will only become concessions when his actions match his words.

      As you correctly point out it hasn’t taken long for Abbas’s words to have been repudiated.

      This will not have escaped Trump’s notice. Being played for a sucker is something Trump does not tolerate. Abbas will bear the consequences.

  2. Paul Winter says:

    Ah, David, still trying to unscramble an omelette. The quadpartite talks that you envisage are a pipe dream. You cannot seriously expect that Egypt but especially Jordan can act as honest brokers vis-a vis Israel. Mohammedans supporting Jews??? Insane!!

    Your article also reveals your bias. Firstly, you talk about the “concessions” that Abbas has made creating a situation where Trump can now “pressure Netanyahu to resume negotiations”. What on earth have you been smoking? Or have you been hibernating and events have passed you by? It has been abu Mazen who has been boycotting talks and the concessions you think are ice breakers are nothing more than what the Fakestinians committed themselves to when the UN set them up to represent a non-people to eventually govern a to-be-concocted polity.

    Secondly, you list demands by both sides, Israel and the (fractured) PA as equal. False!! And grossly biased the Jewish state. THE JEWISH STATE. On the one hand you have a democratic state that came to control a region to which has every right in a defensive war and on the other hand you have a jihad supporting murderous kleptocracy which has no legitimacy and declines statehood because it would mean the end of funding and coming to terms with the Jewish people having a state.

    The two are not equal and no one who is fair minded would even for a second pretend that they are.

    • david singer says:

      Paul

      The four party talks are not a pipe dream for the reasons I state in my article.

      I am of the opinion that – after what transpired in Bethlehem on 23 May – Trump will not be pressuring Netanyahu to return to the negotiations that have failed over the last 10 years and been stalled since 2014.

      If that is all Trump has in mind it will be a complete waste of his time.

      A new set of negotiations between Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Abbas offers Trump better opportunities to forge a resolution of the Israel- Arab conflict. Whether he succeeds is yet to be seen.

  3. Leon Poddebsky says:

    These are not concessions.
    All of the Arab Palestinians’ demands contravene the letter and spirit and intent of the Oslo Accords.
    The misconduct in general of the Arab Palestinian Authority and much of its society violates the Oslo Accords.
    It is not a concession flagrantly, continuously and brazenly to violate signed agreements as well as basic human norms of decency for many years, and then to undertake to cease such abominations.
    Is there any one who actually trusts their word?

    • david singer says:

      Leon

      Your comments substantiate why the three concessions made by Abbas detailed in my article are indeed concessions.

  4. Roy Sims says:

    David,
    I applaud the efforts of President Trump to see the BIG picture in his attempts to broker a peace deal.
    It is by far the best attempt thus far. BUT, the hurdle is still at an extremely high level. World record! Personal best! Unattainable?
    We can only pray that goodwill prevails to bring the parties to genuinely seek REAL peace.
    I confess to being ultra skeptical about Mr Abbass and his words.
    Roy Sims

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