Do I detect a new tone in the rhetoric of Mahmoud Abbas, or is it just wishful thinking on my part?
He’s reported to have issued some stinging criticism of his former “partners” in the ill-fated “unity” government of Palestine, Hamas.
Maybe it’s the murder of so many colleagues. Maybe it’s that it got very personal this time—“this bomb’s for Abu Mazen [Abbas],” a video shows men purported to be Hamas assassins (oh, sorry, “militants,” according to the linked CNN article) saying as they plot his murder. Maybe it’s that he sees his opportunity to get some traction as head of the West Bank, a traction that utterly eluded him before as the titular head of the coalition government.
We’ll see. But one sentence certainly had me (and his audience, his followers in Ramallah) applauding: There will be no dialogue with Hamas no matter what.
Sounds about right. Of course, dialogue with Fatah (of which Abbas is the head, heir to founder Arafat), used to be contraindicated as well, and led inexorably to fake peace talks in which Arafat could not accept reasonable offers, and then the horrifically bloody terrorist excesses of the Second Intifada.
Now chickens, as they say, have come home to roost for Abbas and Fatah. They were content to wink at the violence as long as it wasn’t directed at them. I take no joy in this, but my hope is that something about being the target of the viciousness they spawned will cause some sort of sea-change in Fatah itself. A person can hope, right? It would be good to have a true partner for peace, after all these years.