Tel Aviv, Asharq Al-Awsat- Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat yesterday, a high-ranking Palestinian source disclosed that Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas showed great anger at the Israeli government and expressed near despair about the negotiations with it when he met with George Mitchell, envoy of US President Barack Obama. Abbas told Mitchell: “This war, which targeted the entire Palestinian people, absolutely demonstrated that Israel’s aim is war, not peace.”
The source said that, during Abbas’s meeting with Mitchell in Ramallah on Thursday, Abbas presented to Mitchell a gloomy picture of the situation in the region that was a surprise to the US official.
Abbas told Mitchell: Israel has backed down on the Oslo agreements that were signed in Washington since the assassination of former Prime Minister Yitzhaq Rabin. He added: All the governments that succeeded Rabin looked for a way to evade the Oslo program and not only move away from its ultimate goal of establishing a Palestinian state, but also back down on what was agreed upon and what was implemented from that program.
According to the same source, Abbas went on to say: Israel carried out its largest settlement operations in this period, and as negotiations progressed, the settlement activity progressed further. The pace of the settlement activity quickened after the Annapolis conference, and its aim was to undermine the basis of the peace process and weaken the Palestinian forces that support this process.
Abbas continued: Israel carried out brutal repressive operations against the Palestinians and tried to cast doubt on the intentions of the late President Yasser Arafat by claiming that there was no partner in the peace process.
Abbas said: Also, Israel launched a ferocious war, named Operation Defensive Shield, to change the Palestinian national leadership that was represented by President Arafat.
He added: When Arafat died, Israel fabricated another pretext to evade the obligations of the peace process by claiming that the new Palestinian president (Abbas himself), was weak. It was at this point when the Gaza project began to divide Palestine, both geographically and politically.
He continued: “The latest Gaza war practically began in the days of Ariel Sharon, who withdrew from Gaza and dismantled the settlements under a unilateral decision without coordination or understandings. At the time, Israel knew that weapons were smuggled for Hamas, but it did not object and did not utter a word. However, when we openly and publicly asked for weapons to reinforce our security forces and impose the rule of law, Sharon vehemently rejected the request.
He went on: Afterward, we saw how they withheld funds from us after Hamas won in democratic elections at a time when funds reached Hamas through tunnels and in suitcases. Thus began the loss of the security agencies.
Abbas said: When Hamas carried out its coup, the petty game of rockets began while preparation began to perpetuate this Palestinian division to separate the Gaza entity from the West Bank.
Abbas added: Then came the mad war, which was never aimed at weakening Hamas. Rather, its aim was to strengthen Hamas at the expense of the bodies of children, women, and other innocent people and at the expense of the destruction, so that we, as Palestinians, may remain divided, and the Israelis would say: “We have no partner for the negotiations, and the Palestinian people are busy with themselves and not interested in a state.”
At this point, Abbas said that the PLO will foil that plan. He added: “We regard Hamas’s sons as our sons. There are a large number of nationalists and sincere ones among them, and they will discover the truth of this plot. If they do not punish the members of their leadership who work for a division and serve the goals of regional parties that have their own calculations disregarding our interests, they will turn their backs on these members. However, they will not allow the plot that aims to strike their people to be pushed through.”
Meanwhile, complementing Abbas’s speech, Ahmad Abdul-Rahman, media adviser to the Palestinian president, said yesterday: “The Palestinian national movement’s leadership feels more sorry for the way Hamas operates than it rejects it.”
He added: “The leaders of this movement [Hamas] consciously, naively, or using other calculations of interest, fall in the Israeli trap, while we want their combat capabilities and sacrifices to be devoted to the Palestinian people’s interest and national cause.”
Abdul-Rahman said: The Hamas leaders now think that they are part of what is termed axis of rejection. They are lured by palaces, red-carpet receptions, and satellite television screens. Nevertheless, the Gaza war proved that they are not an arm, but a marginal tool, even when they do this service to that axis.
He added: Had they [the rejection axis members] respected them and highly valued their role as partners, they would not have left them under the Israeli bombardment without support. They would have opened a combat front in the north, for example, from Hezbollah or Syria. Or, for example, Iran would have cut the oil supply to Israel’s friends. However, they did nothing, and this was not a coincidence.
Abdul-Rahman pointed out: If Hamas returns to its senses and to the Palestinian national fold and joins the PLO factions, we will be able to foil the conspiracy of the Israeli aggression against our people.