Abbas Gives the Finger to Obama / Khaled Abu Toameh

September 27, 2011
By rejecting both of US President Barack Obama's requests -- to avoid a United Nations bid for Palestinian Statehood and to return to the negotiating table -- the Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, is now hoping to join the bandwagon of the few Arab and Muslim leaders who have dared to stand up to the Americans.

For many years, Abbas's Arab and Muslim enemies had condemned him as a "puppet" in the hands of the US.

But his decision to dump the US will certainly help him get rid of that image. Abbas is well aware of the fact that anti-American sentiments remain as high as ever in most of the Arab and Islamic countries. This was the reason he decided that it would be unwise of him to continue swimming against this tide.

By distancing himself from Washington, Abbas has moved closer toward the Arab world's anti-US camp, led by Iran and consisting of Hamas, Hizbullah and other radical groups.

It is no surprise, therefore, that some Hamas leaders have come out in support of Abbas's decision to spit in the face of the Obama administration. In a sign of improved relations between the two parties, Abbas's Fatah faction has now decided to resume unity talks with Hamas in the hope of forming a new government in the near future.

The campaign of incitement against Obama and the US will also whip up anti-American sentiments in the Arab world and could lead to endangering the lives of US citizens and troops in the Middle East.

For weeks, the Obama administration tried to persuade Abbas to abandon his plan to seek full membership in the UN for a Palestinian state, to no avail.

Even threats to cut off financial aid to the Palestinian Authority and veto the motion at the UN Security Council did not stop Abbas from going ahead with his statehood bid.

Nor did the hundreds of millions of dollars that were granted to Abbas's administration in the West Bank over the past few years help prevent the statehood plan.

Further, Abbas has not only turned his back on the Americans; he is now also whipping up anti-American sentiment among Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world.

The verbal assault on Obama and the US began long before Abbas submitted his application for statehood to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Speaking to journalists in Ramallah, top Abbas aides accused Obama of "surrendering to Zionist pressure" because of his repeated attempts to dissuade Abbas from embarking on a unilateral move at the UN.

The aides also accused Obama of being influenced by "Zionist and pro-Israel" advisors. One official in Ramallah even went as far as calling for a boycott of US envoy Dennis Ross under the pretext that he was "pro-Israel." Ross and another US envoy, David Hale, had both been dispatched to Ramallah to try to persuade Abbas to agree to the unconditional resumption of peace talks with Israel.

Since Abbas delivered his speech at the UN last week, the Palestinian Authority has stepped up its criticism of Obama and the US. On instructions from senior Palestinian officials, demonstrators took to the streets to chant anti-US slogans and burn portraits of Obama in scenes reminiscent of mass anti-American protests by supporters of Iran and Hizbullah.

Abbas and his aides are now hoping that the Arab and Islamic countries would compensate them for the loss of financial aid from the US, which has been giving the Palestinian Authority -- more than $450 million a year. The Palestinians believe that the Arab and Muslim leaders are so afraid of the "Arab Spring" that they will be forced to start funding the Palestinians.

The Saudis were the first to prove this theory correct. Last week, they informed the Palestinian Authority of their decision to channel $200 million in urgent aid to the Palestinians. It now remains to be seen if other countries will follow suit. If that happens, Obama can expect still another finger from Abbas.

permission to publish by author

Post new comment

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters (without spaces) shown in the image.