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Monday, August 15, 2011

Another 'Palestinian' dud?

After looking at how got himself into his current Linkpredicament, Washington Post columnist Jackson Diehl looks at the possibility that the 'Palestinian' statehood bid in September will just be a dud (Hat Tip: Soccer Dad).
Hence, Abbas’s appeal, first delivered in Ramallah late last month, for “mass action, organized and coordinated in every place,” to accompany the U.N. vote. The idea is to stage huge, Arab Spring-style rallies in Ramallah and other West Bank towns beginning in early September, building to a climax when Abbas addresses the General Assembly on Sept. 21.

In theory, this will move countries to vote for Palestinian statehood, make Israel look isolated, attract the attention of Arab satellite channels and create at least the illusion of a triumph when Third World votes push the meaningless General Assembly resolution over the top.

The alternative is the exposure of Abbas’s fecklessness. “Abbas’s problem is that he will be humiliated if the U.N. votes and then nothing happens on the ground,” says a senior Israeli official who is deeply involved in planning for September. “So he is planning to jump on the back of a tiger. The problem is that if he loses control of the tiger, he is doomed.”

The Palestinians say they have a plan for that. The rallies will be carefully policed; they will be restricted to West Bank towns, far away from Israeli soldiers and settlers. Officials around Abbas say they recognize that if the demonstrations turn into a “third intifada,” they will be the losers: They will be swept from power by a more militant group of leaders.

Israelis, too, know they have much at stake. “Ten bodies could change the Middle East,” said the senior Israeli official I spoke to, who also said that Israeli army and police officials are engaged in intensive preparations aimed at avoiding violent clashes.

It’s not hard to imagine what could go wrong in a “third intifada.” The embattled dictatorships of Bashar al-Assad in Syria and Moammar Gaddafi in Libya could get a saving break as Arab attention focused on a new Israeli-Palestinian fight. Syria and Iran could promote new marches on Israel’s borders from the Golan Heights and Lebanon. Extremists in Egypt could use anger against Israel to whip up support in crucial elections scheduled for November. And so on.
But given their own current situations, will Syrians, Libyans and Egyptians really care about the 'Palestinians'? Recall all the reports from May and June that implied that the Syrians, for example, who attempted to breach Israel's borders, were practically forced to do so by Assad to distract attention from his own predicament. Similar reports came from Lebanon.

The Libyans are so far away and in their own civil war... are they really going to take to the streets of Benghazi? And while the Egyptians seem more likely than the others to take a 'Palestinian' uprising seriously, what are they going to do about it?

In sum, I believe that the threat of what might happen in other Arab countries is overblown. And most of the 'Palestinians' aren't interested in another intifada either. Here's Diehl again.
If something stops Abbas, it will probably be Palestinians themselves. A recent poll showed that two-thirds of them oppose a third intifada, and only 14 percent said they would participate in one. If the world is lucky, the plan for a September explosion will turn out to be just another Palestinian dud.
I'd bet on the dud. Trust me. Barak's diplomatic tsunami evaluation was wrong. Tzipi Livni's whining is way off base. The Netanyahu government has handled this brilliantly. So long as they don't cave in and give up real concessions to get the US to cast its veto.

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