A Palestinian Surprise for Israel

Sunday, August 31, 2014 |  Aviel Schneider

The Palestinians have a diplomatic surprise waiting for Israel in the wake of the summer’s Gaza war.

It’s actually not much of a surprise, given that details were revealed several days ago in Cairo by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. Speaking on Egyptian television, Abbas joked that America probably wouldn’t like his next move, which is to present a new, last-ditch “peace” proposal to the United Nations that demands a firm Israeli timetable for a full withdrawal from Judea and Samaria.

Abbas plans to make this move in just two weeks’ time, on September 15.

“If the United Nations rejects the Palestinian demand (for an Israeli timetable), the plan will be submitted to the International Court of Justice in The Hague,” warned chief Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath.

The whole scheme amounts to political blackmail. If Israel does not meet Palestinian preconditions for returning to “peace” negotiations, it will face charges over alleged “war crimes” in Gaza.

It is also a way for Abbas to save face and retain power. With Hamas’ perceived “victory” in the Gaza war, Abbas needs to keep his own Fatah faction politically attractive.

Israel has yet to offer an official response to Abbas’ plan, and most are focused first on ongoing ceasefire negotiations in Cairo. The current cessation of hostilities is only the first step of the truce, in which Hamas still hopes to make major political gains.

As long as Hamas maintains such influence over the Palestinian leadership, leading Israeli officials like Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett insist no progress can be made toward a lasting peace. For Bennett, Abbas has made himself no less guilty than Hamas.

At present, much remains unclear. Who will ultimately take the lead in Gaza? Is Abbas and his Fatah capable of reestablishing control over the volatile coastal enclave? Will Israel succumb to pressure and set a timetable for withdrawal from the so-called “West Bank”?

PHOTO: Hamas celebrates its “victory” over Israel in Gaza.

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