September 1, 2014 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1115

Articles In Palestinian, Egyptian, Saudi Press Call For Leveraging Gaza Ceasefire Into Political Initiative Leading To Peace With Israel And Palestinian State

September 1, 2014 | By B. Chernitsky and Y. Graff*
Palestinians | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1115

1. Introduction

In the wake of the Gaza war, Palestinian President Mahmoud 'Abbas seeks to leverage the ceasefire agreement into a political initiative to attain an independent Palestinian state, an initiative to be carried out in coordination with Egypt and other Arab countries and while keeping the U.S. informed.[1] 'Abbas, who hopes such a measure will boost the political standing of the Palestinian Authority (PA), said in a joint press conference with Egyptian President 'Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sisi on August 23, 2014, on the eve of the announcement of the ceasefire in Gaza, that the Egyptian president and himself had agreed on an initiative for a permanent agreement. 'Abbas did not specify the details of this initiative, but reports in the Arab press indicate that it is aimed at "ending the occupation" within a "definite timetable," and comprises three phases. In the first, four-month phase, Israel and the U.S. will draw up maps representing their suggestion for the borders of the Palestinian state. If this phase is successful, the sides will commence negotiations that will continue for a limited time period. Should the negotiations fail, the Palestinians, with Arab League sponsorship, will ask the UN Security Council to set a definite timetable for an Israeli withdrawal. Should this move fail as well, the Palestinians will resume their efforts to join international bodies, including the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague.[2]

Egypt also advocated, from the beginning of the war, to leverage the ceasefire talks into a more comprehensive and meaningful agreement leading to the establishment of a Palestinian state. In an August 2, 2014 press conference with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Egyptian President 'Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sisi stressed that the Egyptian ceasefire initiative offered an opportunity to resolve not only the Gaza crisis, but the entire Palestinian problem, and to establish "a secure and stable Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital."[3] Three weeks later, Al-Sisi again stressed at a press conference that "Egypt will never abandon its support for the Palestinian problem. This conflict will only end with the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital. Egypt's position has not and will not change with regards to the Palestinian problem... The first agreement [i.e., the ceasefire agreement] is meant to trigger a political process that will lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state, and I have said this to all the sides. We must use the current international interest in the Palestinian issue to make progress. Egypt will not cease its efforts until we can reach a political process that will lead to a permanent solution... The Palestinian problem is a problem of an occupation that must be removed."[4]

Saudi Arabia, which is behind the Arab Peace Initiative that was approved by the 2002 Arab League Summit in Beirut, and which Saudi Arabia raises from time to time, sided with Egypt's position. In his opening remarks at the emergency session of the Executive Committee of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), held in Jeddah on August 12, 2014, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal attacked Israel's actions in Gaza and added that "only peace will ensure Israel's endurance as a state."[5] Prince Turki Al-Faisal, former Saudi intelligence chief and former Saudi ambassador to the U.S. and U.K., also expressed his country's position when he called on Israel, in statements and articles, to choose the path of peace. He again underlined this position by meeting with Israeli Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, former head of the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate and current director of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.[6]

Even before the ceasefire was announced, Egyptian and Saudi officials and columnists added their voices to calls for expanding indirect political ties between Israel and the Palestinians in Cairo, in order to reach a comprehensive political arrangement. Apparently, this approach on the part of Egypt and Saudi Arabia is aimed at improving their standing in the region and burnishing their respective global images as leaders of the Arab world's moderate axis. In addition to improving their status, Saudi Arabia and Egypt also seek to strengthen the PA and weaken Hamas – which is linked to their bitter enemy, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). In this spirit, with the outbreak of the Gaza war, the Saudi and Egyptian press published articles that were aggressively critical of Hamas;[7] these articles undermined the PA's emphasis on the need to preserve unity and the reconciliation with Hamas (although at the same time it was striving to increase its influence at Hamas' expense).

While many of the articles in the Egyptian and Saudi press presented Israel as a reluctant party that must be coerced into accepting the arrangement, they also stressed that a peace agreement between Israel, the Palestinians and all Arab countries is more likely to end the Palestinian suffering than armed resistance and wars.[8]

Recent articles in the Palestinian press have backed the political move that 'Abbas is promoting, reiterating the claim that the ceasefire talks should be leveraged into an overarching and permanent solution to the Palestinian problem. Unlike the articles in the Egyptian and Saudi press, these Palestinian articles are not explicitly calling for an agreement with Israel, but rather supporting the option of turning to international institutions in order to pressure Israel, which could lead to a breakthrough in the political process and to the establishment of an independent state. The articles also emphasize the need for preserving Palestinian unity, and call on all the factions to stand behind the PA leadership.

Al-Sisi (right) with 'Abbas during ceasefire talks in Cairo (image: Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, London, August 24, 2014)

The following are excerpts from Saudi, Egyptian and Palestinian articles expressing the above trends:

2. Articles In Egyptian, Saudi Press: This Is An Opportunity For An Agreement With Israel

Articles in the Egyptian and Saudi press were explicit in calling for a comprehensive political agreement with Israel based on the perception that its existence is an unavoidable reality and peace is an interest of the entire region. Some prominent arguments in these articles were:

1. A fundamental solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is needed, based on establishing a Palestinian state and avoiding partial solutions (such as short-term ceasefires) which provide neither security nor prosperity. Such a solution requires international pressure and involvement, since Israel is reluctant to pursue it.

2. Israel cannot be eliminated through military force; hence, there is need to recognize the fact of its existence and strive for an agreement with it. Military confrontations with it do not benefit the Palestinians but always result in horrific Palestinian losses.

3. Peace is a regional need, since it will facilitate forming a regional coalition to combat terror and religious extremism.

4. The current situation is not fated; peace can be achieved, even if, at present, it seems far off.

2.1. 'Al-Ahram': The Only Solution Is A Negotiated, Comprehensive Peace Agreement With Israel

The editorial for the official Egyptian daily Al-Ahram stressed the need for a stable and sustainable comprehensive solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in place of a limited, narrow approach, and even compared solving the conflict to solving Egypt's terrorism problem: "Egypt has presented its vision to solve the region's problems in the recent statements of President 'Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sisi. This is a vision that generally calls for 'fundamental solutions' to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a deeper and more comprehensive treatment of the problem of extremism and terrorism. [In that same way,] Egypt has tied the elimination of poverty and ignorance and the improvement of the religious discourse to the struggle agaisnt the extremism that breeds terrorism...

"This is a unique juncture, and with the steady [worsening] of the situation in Gaza and Israel's war crimes against the Palestinian people, we can no longer content ourselves with trying to find [temporary] arrangements while being certain that the conflict will erupt again. Like President 'Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sisi stressed, there is a real chance to end the Gaza crisis and solve the Palestinian problem... The international community should not pass up this chance, which was born of the ruin, destruction, killing, and violent battles. The parties to the conflict must sympathize with the suffering of their peoples and make brave choices for peace... If this chance, as well as Egypt's support for the efforts [to attain] a permanent solution to the Palestinian problem, are not utilized, then all signs indicate that the future will be worse. If there is no just and real peace, the alternative is extremism and terrorism at the hands of ISIS and its ilk. Israel is not distant from the rest of the world, and therefore terrorism will not only target it, but the rest of the world as well, starting with Europe and America."[9]

Also, after the August 23 meeting between 'Abbas and Al-Sisi, the newspaper stuck to its position, claiming that 'Abbas's intention of promoting a political process for meeting Palestinian demands proved that "Egypt's path in handling the crisis since its onset was the most proper, and Egypt's ongoing efforts to return to the negotiating table without the background noise and the empty slogans were the only means of stopping the spilling of Palestinian blood."[10]

In its August 28 editorial, Al-Ahram expressed hope that now that a ceasefire agreement had been signed, negotiations for an ultimate solution to the Palestinian issue would begin."[11]

2.2. Saudi Columnist: Only Peace Will Liberate Palestine

Mahmoud Aal Al-Sheikh, a columnist for the Saudi daily Al-Jazirah, claimed that Arab leaders throughout history had boasted of their ability to eliminate Israel and defeat it militarily, but in effect they suffered defeats and even turned their weapons on their own people instead of against Israel. According to him, the time has come to recognize the fact of Israel's existence and solve the conflict with it with an agreement, especially since the international community, which supports peace, will promote the Palestinians' interests in this matter: "Saddam [Hussein] threatened to bomb Israel with... chemical weapons, and Arabs, from the [Atlantic] Ocean to the Gulf, cheered for him... Eventually he hid in a basement and the Americans came, took him out, captured him, and tied him up, and thus the false hero ended his life with a quick death... Hafez Al-Assad used the liberation of Palestine as a passport, using it to ride atop a tank during a dark, cold night [and seize the reins of] the Syrian regime. But he [only] strengthened his own sect, family, and associates. Syrians, and later the rest of the Arabs, discovered (too late) that the cause of Palestine and liberating the stolen land was a mere deception with which [Assad] meant to preoccupy his people and other Arabs [while he] remained on the Syrian throne until he died and bequeathed it to his son. His heir used the same [tools] as his predecessor, and did not restore a single inch of the missing homeland...

"The fact of the matter is that Palestine will not be liberated by anything other than peace. Yes, Israelis do not desire peace and prefer war, because that is their trump card that gives them superiority over the Palestinians. But the [rest of the] world, from edge to edge, hates wars and their tragedies. The world stands for peace, and will force those who stand with Israel, specifically Western governments, to stand with the Palestinians... just as [the world] stood united with Mandela in South Africa, also despite the objections [of the Western leaders], and marched as one towards peace. This is the only choice, even if the boastful media considers this choice as bitter as gall.

2.3 'Al-Hayat' Columnist: Political Settlement Will Keep Israel From Realizing 'Demographic Solution'

Raghida Dergham, a Lebanese columnist for the London-based Saudi daily Al-Hayat, called on the Palestinians and Arabs to adhere to the political process while preparing emergency plans in case the process fails. She wrote: "[The Palestinians] have the option of the political process even if they are convinced it is a waste of time and will produce a result that does not benefit them or give them a horizon... The political process is a safety valve against the military destruction of the Palestinians and prevents Israel, at least for the time being, from carrying out the demographic solution. The other option is a military solution that most Palestinians see as suicide. This, knowing that the war will be purely Palestinian and will not involve other Arab countries, Iran, or [others] who pretend to shoulder responsibility for the Palestinian problem. At the very least, everyone should stop pretending and burying their heads in the sand. Israel is doing what it pleases and revealing its true goals. It is time to recognize reality. The time is ripe for Arab and international parties to begin preparing emergency long-term plans for the morning after the funeral of the two-state solution."[12]

2.4 Egyptian Journalist 'Abd Al-Mun'im Sa'id: Political Arrangement Will Stop Region-Wide Chaos

The former head of Al-Ahram's board of directors, 'Abd Al-Mun'im Sa'id, writing in the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, described the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a struggle that seems eternal, but does not have to be. According to him, there are enough plans that can be used to promote peace, but the Saudi plan is the best chance for the Middle East to be peaceful and stable, as happened in Europe after World War II. He wrote: "Wars and military conflicts [enable] to launch serious attempts for an arrangement that ends the historic disputes that caused the war. Simply speaking, [it is possible to resolve] the Arab and Palestinian-Israeli crisis, which has lasted a century and several decades. We are not starting in a vacuum. The conflict has already lost its 'existential philosophy,' whereby each side rejected the existence of the other. There has already been mutual recognition and a long list of agreements and attempts that began in Oslo (and the peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan that came before and after it) and ended with the Clinton understandings. Add to that advanced moves that took place in talks between Olmert and Abu Mazen and between Tsipi Livni and Abu Alaa. Those who want them also have the Geneva understandings and an additional document from Taba.

"All these make an arrangement possible, but more important than its content is the fact that avoiding it means expecting an immediate war that will spare no one and that nobody will win. Simply speaking, [if we avoid making an agreement,] the Middle East will never be like Europe after World War II... And if war represents punishment for both fighting sides, then there is also a prize, embodied by the Arab peace initiative offered by Saudi Arabia and adopted by the Arab summit in 2002. The wonderful thing about this initiative is that it does not only solve the Arab-Israeli conflict but also prepares the ground for a new regional structure that holds security and prosperity for all parties. If this initiative had been realized at the time, perhaps the region would have been spared the horrors of chaos, wars, extremism, and terrorism that have befallen it... The simple facts say that the persistence of the current situation will lead to more wars."[13]

2.5 Egyptian Intellectual: This Is An Opportunity For Region-Wide Peace, But Is Israel Ready?

Egyptian intellectual Mamoun Fandy wrote in the English edition of Al-Sharq Al-Awsat that ceasefire negotiations can be used to resolve the crisis and create a moderate regional coalition to combat the rampant terrorism in the region, which affects other countries and not just Israel. At the same time, he questioned whether Israel could produce a leader as courageous as Sadat that would be able to pursue this path. He wrote: "The bad news is that the widening of the conflict has contributed to greater instability across the region. The recent Gaza war made Hamas, not the PLO, the darling of the radical Arab street, in much the same way that the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah made Hassan Nasrallah an Arab hero. This empowers political movements rather than states, and fuels greater violence throughout the region. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is just the most recent manifestation.

"The good news, however, is that if Israel wants to strike a grand deal with the Arabs, now is the time to do it. Arab states are in their weakest political positions for a long time, and given their internal political upheavals they are ready to sign a comprehensive deal. The biggest obstacle here, however, is the Israeli side. Can Israel produce a Sadat-like figure willing to make a daring move in the same way the late Egyptian president did, by going to Cairo or Riyadh and signing a comprehensive deal? Perhaps an even more daring move would be to go to Tehran. The ball is firmly in Israel's court now."[14]

2.6 Syrian Intellectual: I May Be Mad, But I Still Dream Of Peace And Believe The Dream Will Come True

Hashem Saleh, an intellectual of Syrian origin living in Morocco, claimed in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat that he is a "blind believer" in peace and has no problems being seen as crazy due to his adherence to the dream of peace: "I personally recognize the agreements that the Palestinian Authority [has signed], as well as the Arab peace initiative, which was endorsed in the Beirut summit in 2002. Moreover, I hope that the Palestinian state will be established tomorrow alongside the state of Israel, will be rescued from this devastating hell, and will turn over a new leaf... I say this knowing that these are empty and demagogic words, at least for the foreseeable future. I say this with my heart wounded and with no room for more wounds... [You are probably saying,] what, then, is the solution? What can we do, you big bastard? [My answer is that] there are two solutions: The first is that we either destroy them or they destroy us. This is an impossible solution, not to mention an inhumane one. I oppose this solution in every sense because I am busy destroying only myself. The second solution is to coexist some way or another. This is what I wish for and dream of. Perhaps you will say: After all this destruction and animosity [you propose coexistence?] What are you, crazy? Yes, I am crazy because I dream of the impossible. Will you prevent me from dreaming as well? Yes, I dream of a region free of the Arab-Israeli conflict, but after the Palestinians get their rights, or half of them, or at least a quarter! I also dream of a region free of ISIS, which has sown corruption in the land and horribly massacred families in the town of Sinjar... I know that my dreams will not come true in the near future. I know I am a grand crazy utopian, but all of history's greatest projects began with utopian ideas."[15]

3. Palestinian Officials, Journalists: The Victory In Gaza – A Lever To Force Israel To Accept Palestinian State

Even before the sides agreed on a ceasefire, and before 'Abbas stated his intentions to present a new political initiative, Palestinian columnists wrote of the need to take advantage of the fighting in Gaza in order to achieve comprehensive Palestinian political gains while preserving their unity and including Hamas in formulating the Palestinian policy. At the same time, the writers also implicitly criticized Hamas, who they said was trying to reduce the entire Palestinian issue to Gaza alone and to take sole credit for what was achieved in the Gaza war.

3.1 Former Palestinian Minister: Beware Israel's Plot To Obtain Normalization Without Paying The Price

In his column in the PA daily Al-Ayyam, former PA minister Ashraf Al-'Ajrami argued that the military victory should be leveraged into political achievements that would include both Gaza and the West Bank, to formulate a political plan that would involve all the factions, and to establish a unity government that would also be in charge of Gaza: "It will be difficult to discuss real political achievement if the thinking is reduced to merely ending the siege – even though this problem is important and pressing... In order to realize a concrete political achievement, we must first end the factional and group calculations... Every victory should be considered a victory for the entire Palestinian people, who have sacrificed, stood fast, and paid a heavy price, even if certain organizations take credit for this victory.

"Either we all win or we all lose. If Gaza has won, then we have all won, and if it has crashed, then we have all crashed, everywhere. Victory depends on the ability to bring the national problem to the forefront and to complete the tasks of national liberation, which begin by ending the occupation. Furthermore, so that we do not give the Gaza resistance more than it can handle and ask it to liberate the homeland as part of ceasefire negotiations, we must think of a framework for a national agreement regarding the next stage by linking [this] agreement to the larger political process.

"There are two very important things that can be attained swiftly and without delay: [one,] the PLO leadership should invite Hamas and Islamic Jihad to discuss a defined political platform on the Palestinian state as well as ways to benefit from the current international atmosphere... and [two,] in this framework, [we must also discuss] the way to administer the Gaza Strip as part of the reconciliation agreement and under supervision of the PA and the reconciliation government, which might and should become a national unity government joined by all factions, including Hamas, on the basis of a worthy platform – [namely] the platform of establishing the independent state of Palestine in the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.

"If this [future] government is based on a unified platform that the world accepts – without any faction changing its general positions – and particularly if all [factions] accept the idea of establishing a Palestinian state in the possible borders that are agreed upon by the international community, it [i.e. the government] will immediately be recognized by most countries, and will be able to carry out the rebuilding of Gaza and to oversee the crossings by means of the PA forces. This would ensure a solution to the problems dealt with by the government in Gaza, and would give the Palestinian position great strength that would enable the leadership to actualize the longed-for political achievement..."

Al-'Ajrami also implicitly criticized the PA, warning against any general arrangement between Israel and several Arab countries, including the PA, under which Israel would normalize relations with those countries without withdrawing from "occupied Arab and Palestinian" territories and without resolving the issue of refugees: "Israel does not want to link the Gaza ceasefire to a comprehensive political solution to the conflict. [Israeli] political circles are today discussing using the Arab peace initiative, following the logic of formulating an Israeli-Arab alliance that would deal with some regional countries and Arab Islamist organizations. They believe that this alliance could include Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan, and the PA. Therefore, we should be wary of submitting ourselves to these condemnable Israeli ideas, which seek normalization with Arab countries without paying the requisite price of withdrawal from the occupied Arab and Palestinian lands and of resolving the problem of the Palestinian refugees."[16]

3.2 Ahmed Qurei: The War Has Created The Conditions For Stepping Up The Political Campaign Vis-à-vis Israel And Isolating It

Former Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qurei (Abu Alaa) wrote in an Al-Quds article published after the beginning of the ceasefire that the Palestinians must now focus on unilateral diplomatic measures to end the occupation and the settlements – such as appealing to the UN and the International Criminal Court – since these goals could not now be realized through negotiations about the permanent settlement. He added that, in order to achieve these goals, the Palestinians must be united under a single leadership, and therefore the PA must regain control of Gaza:

"It is reasonable to assume that the unbearably aggressive war against Gaza will not enable the launch of a comprehensive peace process and will not lead to any dramatic changes in Israel's established policy in the near future.

"Perhaps unity in the Palestinian position – early signs of which, in the form of a national consent government, emerged before this war broke out, and clearer manifestation of which came during the war itself in the form of a single delegation that negotiated on behalf of all the Palestinians – is of central importance in creating an effective international perception, and in preparing to launch an influential diplomatic move based on [the assumption] that a long-term ceasefire would not be assured unless it was part of a broader framework. What I mean is dealing with the political roots of the [Palestinian] issue – that is, the occupation and the settlements – and halting the negotiations on the [particular] issues of the permanent agreement. In other words... we should ignore the issues of the crossings, the fishing zone, and so on, despite their great importance, and focus all efforts on the root of the lengthy historic crisis – that is, the occupation that has been going on for 47 years [i.e. since 1967]...

"We need to deal with the removal of the siege... as part of a long-range Palestinian strategy that takes into account the positive outcomes of this war, including the achievements on the ground. We need to leverage these towards the most important central goal – reconnecting the Gaza Strip with Jerusalem and the West Bank, not just by means of a passage between both parts of the homeland, but by means of a joint political perception for all parts of the Palestinian [people].

"Achieving this central goal requires us to elevate our national functioning to the highest level in terms of unity in our ranks and [unanimity of] voice. This [will be accomplished] with a commitment to the PLO's legitimacy and to its status as the sole representative of the Palestinian people – in addition to actualizing full political partnership [among all factions] in all matters... This demands [convening] the framework of the extended leadership of the one and only source of Palestinian legitimacy [i.e. the PLO and other factions that are not yet included in it] and for using it as the foundation of a political entity that includes the entire Palestinian people. [This is to be done] without, of course, neglecting the reactivation of the PLO and the renewal of the flow of blood in its dry veins."

"One important outcome of this war is that it created the conditions for the PA to return to Gaza without [the need for] political coercion, and eventually for ending the chapter of bitter schism between the two parts of the homeland and the [situation where there were] two sources of authority [i.e., the PLO and Hamas]. [This will enable us to] form a [new] national foundation by rebuilding the unified leadership and expanding its representational framework in order to strengthen our independent national enterprise and implement the principle of full partnership, as explained above.

"It can be said with almost complete certainty that the courageous 50-day war in Gaza played an important role in creating the right political conditions for launching a comprehensive diplomatic campaign and stepping up the political confrontation with Israel and isolating it on every possible level, including [by means of] the UN and the [International] Criminal Court, as well as the media and new interactive media, and for refuting all of [Israel's] claims regarding the absence of a Palestinian partner [for peace] or other odious claims such as 'the conflict is irresolvable.'

"Perhaps the outcomes of this war will be enough to open the door wide to a negotiated solution culminating in a historical reconciliation that will meet the minimal legitimate demands of the Palestinian people, including the establishment of an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital and a solution to the refugee problem based on UN Resolution 194. [At the very least,] the symbolic and moral achievements of this war will create an opening and a better opportunity than ever for [realizing] the option of a just and comprehensive peace. This, if the Palestinian side manages to wage a political campaign no less ruthless than its military campaign..."[17]

3.3 'Al-Quds': We Must Promote A Comprehensive Political Solution Rather Than Focus Only On Gaza

The editorial of the daily Al-Quds stressed that the fighting in Gaza should not be addressed separately from the general Palestinian problem. It argued that ending the Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip was paramount, but that a general solution must also be found also for Palestinians in the West Bank, which is why 'Abbas' political plan was so important: "At this stage, the spotlight is turned on the situation in Gaza and on the Israeli aggression that has lasted 50 days, and also on the deadly siege that has been going on for years... The efforts to achieve calm have given top priority to ending aggression and searching for ways to end the siege and the suffering, but this matter doesn't end with Gaza's troubles, since the Strip is [only one] part of the basic problem, [which also includes] the devastating occupation of the West Bank and the Judaization of Jerusalem, the settlements and expulsion of [Palestinian] residents, and worst of all, the Israeli extremism and refusal to meet simple conditions and demands for peace and to accept the 1967 borders as a source of authority, with limited land swaps...

"In the past few days, President Abu Mazen ['Abbas] contacted various elements in the Arab and international arena and also appealed to all Palestinian forces and factions. These contacts had two goals: achieving calm in Gaza, and later seeking a general political solution for the Palestinian problem... And if President ['Abbas] will make a suggestion to place the Palestinian territories under international supervision, as he is expected to do, and if Arab countries and Europe support this suggestion, then, despite the likely objection of the U.S. and Israel, this would have considerable political importance, increase popular and international support for the [Palestinian] cause and deepen the understanding of Palestinian demands. In any case, this stage requires focusing on the [Palestinian] cause as a whole, and not just on the Gaza Strip."[18]


* Y. Graff and B. Chernitsky are research fellows at MEMRI.





[1] 'Abbas said recently in Cairo that he had discussed the matter with Jordan and Qatar, and with Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Al-Arabi. Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), August 24, 2014. It should be noted that 'Abbas took this move while taking care to preserve the unity with Hamas. If, in the beginning of the war, 'Abbas adopted a tactic of condemning the Hamas and calling its leaders "warmongers," as the fighting continued he changed his policy, and even adopted Hamas's narrative regarding the war as well as Hamas's demand for a ceasefire (See MEMRI Special Dispatch No.5806, Palestinian Leadership In U-Turn On Gaza Conflict: Attacking Israel, Adopting Hamas' Conditions For A Ceasefire July 23, 2014; See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 5795, Hamas, Palestinian Authority Trade Accusations Over Israeli Operation In Gaza July 14, 2014). Later he formed a joint PA-Hamas delegation to the ceasefire talks in Cairo, headed by his representative, Fatah Central Committee member 'Azzam Al-Ahmad. Fatah official Faisal Abu Shahla, who was a member of the Palestinian delegation to the talks on the Gaza ceasefire, stressed that "'Abbas agreed on [his political imitative] with Hamas Political Bureau Head Khaled Mash'al." Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), August 27, 2014.

[2] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), August 30, 2014.

[3] Al-Watan (Egypt), August 2, 2014.

[4] Al-Ahram (Egypt), August 25, 2014.

[5] Al-Bayan (UAE), August 13, 2014.

[7] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 5796, The Current Gaza Conflict: Arab World Losing Patience With Hamas, July 16, 2014.

[9] Al-Ahram (Egypt), August 4, 2014.

[10] Al-Ahram (Egypt), August 24, 2014.

[11] Al-Ahram (Egypt), August 28, 2014.

[12] Al-Hayat (London), July 25, 2014.

[13] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), August 13, 2014.

[14] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), August 11, 2014.

[15] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), August 8, 2014.

[16] Al-Ayyam (PA), August 20, 2014.

[17] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), August 27, 2014.

[18] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), August 26, 2014.

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