'Palestinian' diplomat told Israeli counterpart Hamas and Abu Mazen both must go
In an earlier post, I reported that President Obama refused to back an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza unless Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed that ousting Hamas would lead to Abu Mazen taking over Gaza, and being given a 'state' in much of Judea and Samaria as well. Assuming that post is correct, I concluded that Prime Minister Netanyahu refused to take the bait, and chose to let Hamas live another day rather than letting Abu Mazen have his 'state' without negotiations. I wrote that was probably the right decision for Israel. And if that's true, I still believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu made the right choice.
Now, Haaretz's Barak Ravid reports on a meeting that took place on Monday between the 'Palestinian' ambassador and the Israeli ambassador to a 'major country.' The two have both served for several years in that country and both know each other well. The 'Palestinian' ambassador is a Gazan. The Israeli ambassador called him on Monday, and asked him how he was doing. The 'Palestinian' ambassador asked to speak in person, and not by phone.
The two met, and the 'Palestinian' ambassador thanked the Israeli for calling him and said that not one of the 19 ambassadors from Arab countries posted in the same capital had called to ask how he was or how his family back in Gaza was faring. The two chatted, and then the Israeli ambassador returned to his office and sent a telegram describing the conversation to the foreign ministry. Barak Ravid received a copy of the telegram, and published it in Haaretz this evening, shortly before the 'cease fire' went into effect (you Americans can think about the timing and whether that was meant to influence or not influence events; at this point I'll assume that the timing was not purposeful and that Haaretz has not yet descended to the level of 60 Minutes). Here's some of what the telegram said, and then we'll discuss a few takeaways:
The Palestinian ambassador said that if Israel expanded the operation in Gaza, it must work to overthrow Hamas, instead of stopping in the middle, as it did in Operation Cast Lead in 2008. “If there should be a ground operation in Gaza, this time he expects to see [Hamas prime minister] Ismail Haniyeh and [high-ranking Hamas leader] Mahmoud al-Zahar in their underwear, as he put it,” the Israeli ambassador wrote, quoting his Palestinian colleague. “Otherwise, there is no sense in another operation, as big as it may be.”Fast forward to this evening and the 'cease fire.' Hillary Clinton met with Abu Mazen this afternoon, and according to the Hebrew tip on which my previous post was made, told Abu Mazen what Obama was demanding of Bibi in exchange for allowing a ground operation. Did Abu Mazen say no? Did Abu Mazen say that he did not want Gaza and effectively admit that the Egyptian Arabs in Gaza and the Jordanian Arabs in Judea and Samaria do not constitute a 'Palestinian people'? Did Obama decide as a result that he has had it with Abu Mazen, and that US policy from now on will tilt toward the Islamist Hamas?
Later on in the telegram, the Israeli ambassador repeated some harsh statements that the Palestinian ambassador had made against Hamas. “The Hamas offices that were destroyed are not important. The real offices are the mosques, which are connected to a widespread network of tunnels. Everything happens underground,” the Palestinian ambassador said. “Hamas has no regrets over the destruction in Gaza. On the contrary. Hamas gets a great deal of economic and political benefit from the terrible destruction because of the large donations that will come from the world and the political image of the organization that stands on the front line against Israel.”
The Palestinian continued his verbal attack on Hamas and the Arab world. “The call to open the Rafah border crossing is nothing but lip service,” he said. “Hamas has no problem with it being closed – that only adds to the profit Hamas makes from the tunnels.... The Arab world leans more in Hamas’ direction these days, and Egypt takes the lead in that. The Egyptian prime minister’s visit to Gaza would never have taken place in Mubarak’s time.... The Arabs’ pilgrimage to Gaza focuses attention exclusively on Hamas, which is accumulating points among the Palestinian public and in the Arab world.”
After venting his anger against Hamas, the Palestinian ambassador turned his criticism on the man who had appointed him to the position: Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. He claimed that Abbas and his advisers believe that the military operation in Gaza is a conspiracy to sabotage the Palestinian action in the United Nations.
This is how the Israeli ambassador described the Palestinian ambassador’s statements in his telegram to the Foreign Ministry: "Abu Mazen never troubled to bring the residents of Gaza close to him. He does not like Gaza, and if he could get rid of it, he would be happy to do so. Therefore, he is in no hurry to visit Gaza to show leadership and presence. The reason has nothing to do with security. He could have arranged such a visit with a foreign leader, thus making an unequivocal statement that Gaza is part of the future Palestinian state. Currently, this is not sufficiently clear, and time is working against the Palestinian Authority and its chairman. One way or another, Abu Mazen’s time is more or less up. The problem is who will replace him."
Until now, I assumed that it was Bibi who had said no to Obama's Faustian bargain. Could it have been Abu Mazen who said no? Could it be pure racism on Abu Mazen's part, or is he afraid that he cannot govern Gaza under any circumstances? And if we are unwilling to do what must be done to oust both 'Palestinian' entities, are we now looking at a choice between a three-state solution or a Hamas-dominated Judea and Samaria?