January 16, 2005
The Wisdom Fund

Abu Mazen: Israel's New 'Security Subcontractor'?

by Enver Masud

Mahmoud Abbas was elected Palestinian Authority president by a wide margin last Sunday, January 9. Now Palesinians expect him to improve their increasingly desperate living condtions, and Israel expects him to put an end to attacks on Israelis.

We don't envy Abbas, popularly known as Abu Mazen, his job.

Unlike the upcoming election in Iraq, Palesinians outside the West Bank and Gaza were not permitted to vote.

Of the estimated 9 million Palestinians worldwide, about 3 million live in the West Bank and Gaza, about 1.4 million were eligible to vote, and about 700,000 actually voted.

And in an apparent effort to forestall gains by Hamas in Palestinian elections, the Israeli army arrested several potential candidates just days before the election.

So Abu Mazen doesn't exactly have a mandate from the Palestinians.

He also does not appear to have the support of either the United States and/or Israel without which he is powerless to improve living conditions for the Palestinians.

Nobel peace laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former President Nelson Mandela have likened Israel to apartheid South Africa.

And in as much as the Israeli occupation of Palestine is the catalyst for attacks on Israelis, Abbas can do little to change that - Israel can.

Besides an early improvement in their living conditions, Palestinians expect a Palestinian state along the lines of the 1967 borders, and a just solution for the Palestinian refugees and their descendants.

Israel, it seems, is less interested in peace, than in driving the remaining Palestinians out of the West Bank and Gaza.

However, a growing movement within Israel and the U.S. might move Israel toward a just solution for both Palestinians and Israelis.

Abu Mazen needs to spell out an unambigous vision for this just solution.

Were he to, under pressure from the U.S. and Israel, sign away Palesinian rights, it won't bring peace to either the Israelis or Palestinians.

So Abu Mazen, absent U.S. pressure for a just solution to the Palestine problem, can choose to be Israel's new "security subcontractor," or be sidelined like former PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat.

"Israel and Palestine timeline," The Guardian (UK)

Enver Masud, "Justice, Not Compromise, on Jerusalem," The Wisdom Fund, September 4, 2000

"Hamas wins overwhelming victory in Gaza vote," Haaretz, January 28, 2005

[Settlements - Jewish colonies for Jews, and Jews only, on Arab land - were not, of course, discussed yesterday. Nor was East Jerusalem. Nor was the "right of return" of 1948 refugees. These are the "unrealistic dreams" that were referred to by the Israelis yesterday.

All this will be discussed "later" - as they were supposed to be in Abbas's hopeless Oslo agreement. As long as you can postpone the real causes of war, that's OK. "An end to violence," that has cost 4,000 deaths - it was all said yesterday, minus the all-important equation that two-thirds of these were Palestinian lives. Peace, peace, peace. It was like terrorism, terrorism, terrorism. It was the sort of stuff you could buy off a supermarket shelf. If only.

At the end of the day the issues were these. Will the Israelis close down their massive settlements in the West Bank, including those which surround Jerusalem? No mention of this yesterday. Will they end the expansion of Jewish settlements - for Jews, and Jews only, across the Palestinian West Bank? No mention of this yesterday. Will they allow the Palestinians to have a capital in Arab East Jerusalem? No mention of this yesterday. Will the Palestinians truly end their "intifada" - including their murderous suicide bombings - as a result of these non-existent promises?--Robert Fisk, "There Will Be No Middle East Peace Without Justice; At No Point," Independent, February 9, 2005]

[But the bitter reality is that nothing has changed. The new "peace plans" are no more real than the previous ones, and on the ground, the Palestinians are losing more of their land and are being pushed into smaller and smaller prison enclaves, surrounded by the new wall that Sharon's government keeps constructing.--Tanya Reinhart, "From Aqaba to Sharm: Fake Peace Festivals," The Electronic Intifada, February 11, 2005]

Chris McGreal, "Hidden costs of Israel's occupation policies," Guardian, February 25, 2005

"Israel 'plans W Bank homes boom'," BBC, February 25, 2005

Conal Urquhart, "Tel Aviv bomb rocks peace process," Guardian, February 26, 2005

Greg Myre, "Israel to Expand Largest West Bank Settlement," New York Times, March 22, 2005

[I have no illusions about Sharon's intentions as far as the West Bank is concerned. He intends to annex 58% of it and leave the Palestinians in several enclaves, each of which will be surrounded by settlements and military installations. At most, in order to satisfy Bush's demand for "contiguity", the enclaves will be connected by bridges and tunnels.

This will be a struggle between the majority, which is mostly secular, mostly liberal and mostly democratic, against a fanatic minority that is mostly very nationalistic, very religious, messianic and, basically, anti-democratic, preferring the decrees of their rabbis to the laws of the Knesset. The results will not only decide whether we shall move towards peace with the Palestinians and the Arab world, but also what will be the character of the State of Israel itself.--Uri Avnery, "Paved with bad intentions," Gush Shalom, March 26, 2005]

VIDEO: Produced and Directed by Dan Setton, "Israel's Next War?," Frontline, April 5, 2005

"Report Card for 109th Congress (2005-2006),", April 21, 2005

Avi Shlaim, "Withdrawal is a prelude to annexation: US hypocrisy is not new but Condi Rice has taken it beyond chutzpah," Guardian, June 22, 2005

[The report provides the most detailed and remorselessly critical account yet produced by a Western international body of Israel's policy in East Jerusalem, which has been occupied since its seizure in the 1967 Six Day War.--Donald Macintyre, "Secret EU report launches scathing attack on Israel," Independent, November 25, 2005]

Henry Siegman, "He never intended an equitable solution in Israel," Observer, January 8, 2006

[The United States, entangled in Iraq, has signaled that the canton plan may be seen as the implementation of the Palestinian state--Meron Benvenisti, "Sharon's second 'big plan'," Haaretz, January 13, 2006]

Nadav Shragai, "Marzel urges IDF to assassinate Uri Avnery," Haaretz, March 21, 2006

Ibrahim Barzak, "Hamas -Fatah Violence Continues in Gaza," Guardian, May 9, 2006

Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, "Egypt transfers arms to Fatah, with Israel's approval," Haaretz, December 28, 2006

"Rice Told Lieberman: 'Choke Hamas',", December 29, 2006

Copyright © 2005 The Wisdom Fund - Provided that it is not edited, and author name, organization, and web address ( are included, this article may be printed in newspapers and magazines, and displayed on the Internet.
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