The Palestinian president, Mr. Mahmoud Abbas (Abu-Mazen) seems to be losing his magic touch. For many years since he took the helm of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leadership – almost fifteen years now – he managed to win the understanding and support of the international community to his vision of resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict based on the two-state concept based on the June 4, 1967 borders; i.e. State of Israel on roughly 78% of historic Palestine and State of Palestinian on the remaining 22% (composed of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip).
Abu-Mazen and his administration succeeded in garnering support to this two-state concept of the entire Arabic and Islamic countries as well as much of the rest of the world. It has been one diplomatic success after another that Abu-Mazen managed to accumulate world-wide and almost always succeeded in squarely placing the blame on Israeli leadership whenever negotiations stopped or the so-called peace process derailed. Abu-Mazen was successful in gaining much of the support he did as a result of his persistent stand demanding implementation of Palestinian Rights by peaceful means. That stand was costly to him and his popularity among Palestinians, especially hard-liners.
Lately, in reaction to certain significant moves by the American Trump administration, including leaks about the so-called “Deal of the Century”, recognition by the American president Donald Trump of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, moving the American embassy to Jerusalem, closing the PLO’s offices in Washington, and recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the entire geographic areas of Jerusalem (east and west) as well as over the Golan Heights, denial of funding to the Palestinian authority, etc. etc. Abu-Mazen refused to send a Palestinian delegation to Bahrain economic workshop sponsored by the United States of America. The Bahrain workshop was claimed to be aiming at improving Palestinian economy, as being the first part to be revealed of the infamous Deal of the Century.
Abu-Mazen could have sent a low-level delegation to the workshop while declaring that there will be no deviation whatsoever from the Palestinian position about resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He could have claimed that the PLO would participate in any effort to improve the Palestinian economy while standing firm on its political position. That was precisely what the governments of Egypt and Jordan did by sending deputy-minister level representatives from their respective ministries of finance while at the same time declaring unwavering support for the Palestinian people, the Arab-peace initiative, and the two-state concept as understood and as articulated by the Palestinian Leadership.
Abu-Mazen could have gone to Bahrain without changing his position one iota and could have exposed the true positions of the Trump administration if/when they start linking Palestinian economic improvements to demands relating to changing Palestinian leadership vision of the two-state concept as it relates to Jerusalem or otherwise. Abu-Mazen could have waited to expose Kushner and Trump if/when they directly ask for linking economic improvements to political demands.
Abu-Mazen has given Kushner and Trump an excuse to claim that he is rigid and inflexible. After all, he rejected a plan that the Americans did not explicitly offer “YET”. A little patience could have served Abu-Mazen well had he joined the Egyptians and Jordanians smart moves. As the Palestinian saying goes:
(لاحق العيّار لباب الدار) loosely translated: Cope with thief till he reaches the exit door.
Abu-Mazen knows well the true Zionist objective when it comes to Palestinian statehood or any other Palestinian progress towards regaining the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. He also knows the prevailing balance of power that has so far dictated the course of events in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He was successful in maneuvering his safe path through that complicated maze. Over a decade and a half, Abu-Mazen succeeded in stripping Israeli leadership from their long standing claim that Palestinians never lose an opportunity to lose an opportunity. By not going to Bahrain, Abu-Mazen risks giving life back to that old Zionist claim.
Hope is the Stuff from which Life is made!