Thursday, June 21, 2007

Is Mahmoud Abbas too old to change?

By Shmuel Rosner - Slate Magazine:
"'Critics will say that this is typical of Abbas,' wrote Martin Indyk of the Saban Center and a former U.S. ambassador to Israel. The man who caved in Gaza is 'a weak leader who would rather appease his challengers than confront them. But perhaps Abbas understands the emerging realities better than they do,' Indyk wrote. People talking to Abbas in recent days testify to a newfound resolve, the development of a backbone. They try as hard as they can to sell the story Indyk is pushing: Giving up on Gaza was a smart move, and Hamas has overplayed its hand. Gaza is a mess; let them deal with it.

The trouble is that Abbas' history suggests otherwise. He didn't make a decision; he was pushed into it. And this decision cannot endure for very long. 'While Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has declared an end to the national unity government, I have little doubt that he will be talking to Hamas in the relatively near future,' wrote Dennis Ross, former special U.S. envoy for the peace process who knows Abbas as well as anyone in the West. 'We should not be fooled by Abbas' rhetoric. Sooner or later he will be forced to pursue new power-sharing arrangements between Hamas and Fatah and restore unity among Palestinians,' wrote Robert Malley and Aaron David Miller, two other former members of the Clinton team, who rarely agree with Ross.

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