Mahmoud Abbas’s Desperate Boycott Strategy

Feb. 28 2018

As late as 2013, the Palestinian Authority (PA) was sending mixed messages about its relationship with the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel (BDS)—a movement that officially claims to be responding to “a call from Palestinian civil society.” The PA’s ambiguity ended by 2015, when the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s Central Council (effectively indistinguishable from the PA) urged an international boycott of Israeli goods. David May comments:

In an October 2016 interview with the Arab Weekly, Nabil Shaath, President Mahmoud Abbas’s top foreign-affairs adviser, said that “the Palestinians can still defeat Israel” with the help of a consumer boycott. During his 2017 UN General Assembly speech, Abbas said, “I call on all states to end all forms of direct and indirect involvement with, and support for, the illegal Israeli colonial settlement regime.” . . .

Among the biggest proponents of BDS within Abbas’s inner circle is his Fatah deputy, Mahmoud al-Aloul, [who] has often declared that “all forms of resistance are legitimate,” an allusion to his support for violence against Israelis. . . . According to a March 2017 audio tape obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, Aloul said, “We [i.e., the Palestinian government] have relations with BDS, our people work there, and we have delegates there. We cooperate with BDS on all levels, and not only with BDS: every group whose aim is to boycott Israel, we are with.” . . .

Since 2014, Abbas has eschewed direct talks with Israel, preferring to attack the Jewish state in the international arena and engage in ill-fated reconciliation attempts with the terrorist group Hamas. Now, with his back against the wall, as he finds himself isolated from the Arab states and from the Trump administration, Abbas seems to be embracing economic warfare against Israel as a national strategy. The decision, while perhaps a long time coming, seems to underscore that the aging Palestinian leader has run out of strategies. The move to support economic warfare will almost certainly prove to be an obstacle to peace and undermine Abbas’s remaining legitimacy.

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More about: Abbas, BDS, Israel & Zionism, Palestinian Authority


Syria’s Downing of a Russian Plane Put Israel in the Crosshairs

Sept. 21 2018

On Monday, Israeli jets fired missiles at an Iranian munitions storehouse in the northwestern Syrian city of Latakia. Shortly thereafter, Syrian personnel shot down a Russian surveillance plane with surface-to-air missiles, in what seems to be a botched and highly incompetent response to the Israeli attack. Moscow first responded by blaming Jerusalem for the incident, but President Putin then offered more conciliatory statements. Yesterday, Russian diplomats again stated that Israel was at fault. Yoav Limor comments:

What was unusual [about the Israeli] strike was the location: Latakia [is] close to Russian forces, in an area where the IDF hasn’t been active for some time. The strike itself was routine; the IDF notified the Russian military about it in advance, the missiles were fired remotely, the Israeli F-16s returned to base unharmed, and as usual, Syrian antiaircraft missiles were fired indiscriminately in every direction, long after the strike itself was over. . . .

Theoretically, this is a matter between Russia and Syria. Russia supplied Syria with the SA-5 [missile] batteries that wound up shooting down its plane, and now it must demand explanations from Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. That won’t happen; Russia was quick to blame Israel for knocking over the first domino, and as usual, sent conflicting messages that make it hard to parse its future strategy. . . .

From now on, Russia will [almost certainly] demand a higher level of coordination with Israel and limits on the areas in which Israel can attack, and possibly a commitment to refrain from certain actions. Syria, Iran, and Hizballah will try to drag Russia into “handling” Israel and keeping it from continuing to carry out strikes in the region. Israel . . . will blame Iran, Hizballah, and Syria for the incident, and say they are responsible for the mess.

But Israel needs to take rapid action to minimize damage. It is in Israel’s strategic interest to keep up its offensive actions to the north, mainly in Syria. If that action is curtailed, Israel’s national security will be compromised. . . . No one in Israel, and certainly not in the IDF or the Israel Air Force, wants Russia—which until now hasn’t cared much about Israel’s actions—to turn hostile, and Israel needs to do everything to prevent that from happening. Even if that means limiting its actions for the time being. . . . Still, make no mistake: Russia is angry and has to explain its actions to its people. Israel will need to walk a thin line between protecting its own security interests and avoiding a very unwanted clash with Russia.

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More about: Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Russia, Syrian civil war