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Abbas plays a misguided waiting game, as Hamas eyes his presidency

17 15 28

On September 13, 1993, US president Bill Clinton stood on the White House lawn together with PLO chairman Yasser Arafat and Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and signed the Declaration of Principles aka the Oslo Accords. (Then-foreign minister Shimon Peres was also there, of course, as his team had spearheaded the agreement.) Twenty-three years and two days later, another signing ceremony took place this past Tuesday. This time, however, the Palestinians were conspicuously absent — although not for long.

A few minutes after the festivities began, Islamic Jihad crashed the ceremony by firing rockets at Ashkelon and Ashdod. This attempt to ruin the peace celebrations was clearly inspired by Iran, whose aim was to send a painful reminder of two things: a) Iran will not allow any relations-establishing process between Israel and the Sunni states to continue peacefully; and b) normalization agreements are nice and all, but the Palestinian issue is alive and kicking.

The rockets notwithstanding, Tuesday’s Abraham Accords ceremony demonstrated the extent to which the Palestinian issue has been pushed off the Arab agenda. The Palestinian Authority and its political representatives – mainly the PLO and Fatah – have hit their lowest point ever. The PA/Fatah do not really have anything to offer the Palestinian public. There are no negotiations; the settlements are growing; there is no real political horizon; the economy is in a terrible state; COVID-19 is hitting the West Bank hard; and the chasm between Fatah and Hamas remains unchanged.

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