Is Trump Trying To Replace Abbas?
Al-Jazeera, Qatar, February 9
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas repeatedly has rejected the United States’ historical role as a mediator in peace talks with Israel, following President Donald Trump’s recognition in December of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Abbas has already reached out to other international players, such as Russia and India, requesting they play a part in a multilateral mechanism for negotiations. But there are those who are dismayed by this move, chief among them the American president who allegedly ordered his staff to begin a process of identifying a potential successor to Abbas. According to some sources, several Palestinians have already been contacted by officials in Washington, although their identities remain unknown. For his part, Abbas seems to be well-aware of the American move. Surely, attempts to forcefully remove Palestinian leaders from power are nothing new. They began in the early 1990s during the Madrid Conference, when the U.S. and Israel empowered Saeb Erekat and Hanan Ashrawi, for example, to represent the Palestinian people at the expense of Yassir Arafat. These efforts culminated with the American demand to decentralize the authority of the Palestinian president by establishing the position of prime minister and, eventually, the poisoning of Arafat by Israel. It appears that 13 years after Arafat was killed, Mahmoud Abbas is staring down the same fate. The accusations that were once made against his predecessor are now being made against him and it is only a matter of time until similar actions are taken to remove Abbas from power—whether by replacing him with a U.S.-backed successor or perhaps even by assassination. These threats should not be undermined or ignored. If there is a glimmer of hope it is that the Palestinian people have always remained steadfast in their battle for self-determination, irrespective of the identity of their leader. What matters at the end of the day is not who is sitting in the Muqata in Ramallah, but rather the elements that unify and motivate the masses to continue their fight. That source of strength, much to America’s dismay, cannot be removed or broken. – Arib al-Antawi