Mahmoud Abbas: quits, leaving old problems? Trend News commentator
Commentator of Trend Middle East Desk, Ulviyya Sadikhova
Mahmoud Abbas's decision to refuse to participate in the upcoming presidential elections and elections at the parliament of the Palestinian Authority is yet another proof testifying importance of the US-Israeli cooperation in the region.
However, the Palestinian leader's withdrawal can be risky for the future of the Palestinian Authority, especially during the period when the Washington administration has shifted its attention from the peace process to the military cooperation with Israel.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's statement in Israel that the issue of the Jewish settlements should fail the efforts for the peace process has put the Palestinians at a standstill.
Abbas, relying so much on the Barack Obama administration, suddenly lost his last hope for success in a dialogue with Israel, considering that in September at the UN General Assembly, President Obama called the Jewish settlements in the West Bank illegal and called to immediately freeze the construction.
The Arab media reported that a change in the U.S. position is so disappointed the Palestinian Authority that the leader of the ruling Fatah party and the PLO, Abbas simply refused to participate in the January elections.
Washington's call to solve the problem "of illegal Jewish settlements through a peaceful dialogue" was a loss of Arab diplomacy in the protracted conflict.
League of Arab States Head Amr Moussa expressed his concerns about the failure of the entire peace process.
However, Palestinians, perhaps, did not want to pay attention to the fact that for six months, when the United States and European countries have demanded to end the settlement construction, Israel has not only ignored it, but also announced a plan to expand the number of apartments in the West Bank by 40 percent.
The military and strategic cooperation between Washington and Israel, as well as the influence of the Jewish lobby on the U.S. foreign policy were on the verge of collapse because of disagreements over the settlements.
Failures in Afghanistan's foreign policy, instability in Iraq, rapprochement of another strategic ally - Turkey with Iran and Syria, who are sponsoring anti-Israeli movements in the Middle East, according to analysts, has become one of the reasons why the United States preferred Israel rather than Palestinian and Arab interests.
If one considers Abbas's refusal from re-election not in terms of emotional distress, and political failures, we can see the following: first, the United States' next step will most likely become a demand for the Palestinian Authority to return to the negotiating table with Israel. Abbas, whose administration, according to analysts, is dependent financially and politically from the United States more than from the Arab countries, most likely, was forced to resume negotiations with Israel without ending the settlement expansion. Israel may ask Washington to reassure the Palestinian leader and put him to the negotiating table to unblock the peace process.
Then, Abbas remains between two fires: if he accepts the pressure by the U.S. and resumes negotiations, he risks losing the election to his political rival - Hamas controlling the Gaza Strip. Otherwise, in order to maintain a solid image of the Palestinian leader, he refuses from the U.S. demands, risking to lose financial support by Washington or to be accused of failure of the peace process.
Therefore, refusal to participate in the January elections, whose result will depend on the fate of the inter-Arab armistice, is more profitable for President Abbas.
Secondly, the Palestinian leader is leaving his post at the time, when Israel claims about the possibility of a new attack on members of the Palestinian Hamas resistance movement and the Gaza Strip.
The Cast Lead operation, which began in late December last year and lasted 22 days, showed a split in the Palestinian political establishment and the weakness of Fatah's central government. Hamas, despite Israeli attacks and pressure by Egypt, retains full control over Gaza, which is annoying Israel.
The head of the Israeli General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said this week that "the next battle will again be in the Gaza Strip, and Israel will again struggle against the rocket launchers, hidden among the most populated areas. The head of the Israeli General Staff accused Hamas of using public and residential sites for storage of missiles and weapons.
"We shall fight in the villages, towns, mosques, hospitals, kindergartens and schools, because this is a war that our enemies are forced upon us," AFP cited Ashkenazi.
It is noteworthy that Israel makes these statements after large-scale military exercises with U.S. on missile defense in October.
In October, the Israeli Jerusalem Post newspaper reported, citing sources in the Defense Ministry that the United States and Israel are negotiating the possibility of deploying "Patriot-3" missile defense system in Israel, as a defense against possible attacks by Iran, supporting Hamas and Hezbollah.
Israel has expressed its concerns about the missile arsenal of Palestinian factions once again this week, saying that smuggled weapons on board of the Frankop cargo ship, detained by Israeli naval forces, were being sent from Iran to Syria, and the warehouses of Hamas and Hezbollah.
Mahmoud Abbas, who wants to create a unified Palestinian government, is trying to avoid the influence of Israel-Hamas military confrontations in all Palestinian territory, including West Bank being under control by Fatah.
Abbas, of course, is aware of the reasons that he has decided to withdraw from the presidential election, however, the second president of the Palestinian Authority, most likely, decided to leave the game until he was accused of failure in the efforts of U.S. and international mediation in the peace process and the inability to be responsible for the security of Palestinians, as it was a year ago.