Mahmoud Abbas's Empty Threats / Khaled Abu Toameh

November 1, 2011
‪According to senior Palestinian officials in Ramallah, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas is considering dismantling the Palestinian Authority if the UN Security Council does not approve his application for full membership of a Palestinian state in the international organization.

‪ In the past five years, Abbas has threatened to resign at least 25 times. Of course he never carried out his threat, which was obviously intended to extract concessions and money from the West. His resignation could actually be a positive step for the Palestinians: it would pave the way for the emergence of new leaders.

‪The threats are Abbas's way of telling Israel and the world that if you do not give me all of what I want, I will step down and you will have to pay salaries to Palestinian civil servants and run the health and education systems in the Palestinian territories.

Dissolving the Palestinian Authority, which was established following the signing of the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO, would mean that Israel or the international community would become responsible for managing the affairs of the Palestinians. That is at least the message that Abbas is trying to send when his aides and he talk about the possibility of dissolving the Palestinian Authority and "handing the keys back to Israel.

‪The late Palestinian Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat used to warn American and European officials that if they did not give him enough money and weapons, the Iranian-backed Hamas would take over the Palestinian Authority. In the end, Hamas won in the January 2006 parliamentary election -- largely because the Americans and Europeans gave money to Arafat without holding him accountable.

‪Abbas has also been warning the Americans and Europeans that failure to fund his regime would result in Hamas's taking over the West Bank as well. But if Hamas one day takes over the West Bank, either by force or through a free and democratic election, it will only be because of Abbas's failure to reform his Fatah faction.

‪But this is not the first time that Palestinian officials talk about dismantling the Palestinian Authority.

‪ In this regard, Abbas is not much different from his predecessor, Arafat, who also used to issue threats and warnings almost every week. Some Palestinians say that Abbas may have learned from Arafat that threats to resign or dismantle the Palestinian Authority are sometimes received with concern in Israel, the US and EU.

Ever since he was elected to succeed Palestinian Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat, Abbas has been threatening either to resign or dissolve the Palestinian Authority almost every Monday and Thursday.

Abbas has issued similar threats so many times in the past that most Palestinians no longer even take them seriously.

Abbas has no intention of stepping down or dissolving the Palestinian Authority. He and the old guard in the PLO will stay in power until the last day of their lives.

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