Mahmoud Abbas Probably Worked for the KGB. Does It Matter?

Last week, an Israeli news network announced the finding of substantial evidence that the Palestinian Authority president had been recruited by Soviet intelligence during the 1980s and that his handler was none other than Mikhail Bogdanov—currently Vladimir Putin’s envoy to the Middle East at a time when Russia is intervening to broker talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Jonathan Tobin considers the significance of these revelations:

If the PA leader were to confound observers and summon up the courage to embrace peace and recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter its borders, then nothing in his past would prevent him from obtaining extensive concessions from the current Israeli government or any possible successor. . . .

[T]he connection with the anti-Semitic Soviet leadership was always more than an alliance of convenience for men like [Yasir] Arafat and Abbas. . . .

[Likewise], the rejectionism of the Palestinians wasn’t merely a strategy but an expression of their identity. Their [leaders’ sense of] national purpose was and still is inextricably linked to their century-old war against the Zionists. If men like Abbas can’t rise above their sordid past and make peace, it is not just a matter of habit, but also a natural consequence of the political culture steeped in hate that they have helped create.

Being a former Soviet agent doesn’t prevent Abbas from making peace. But it does supply a partial explanation for why he refuses to do it.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Israel & Zionism, KGB, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority, Vladimir Putin, Yasir Arafat

As Hamas’s Power Collapses, Old Feuds Are Resurfacing

In May, Mahmoud Nashabat, a high-ranking military figure in the Fatah party (which controls the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority), was gunned down in central Gaza. Nashabat was an officer in the Gaza wing of the Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, a terrorist outfit that served as Fatah’s vanguard during the second intifada, and now sometimes collaborates with Hamas. But his killers were Hamas members, and he was one of at least 35 Palestinians murdered in Gaza in the past two months as various terrorist and criminal groups go about settling old scores, some of which date back to the 1980s. Einav Halabi writes:

Security sources familiar with the situation told the London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that Gaza is now also beleaguered by the resurgence of old conflicts. “Many people have been killed in incidents related to the first intifada in 1987, while others have died in family disputes,” they said.

The “first-intifada portfolio” in Gaza is considered complex and convoluted, as it is filled with hatred among residents who accuse others of killing relatives for various reasons, including collaboration with Israel. . . . According to reports from Gaza, there are vigorous efforts on the ground to contain these developments, but the chances of success remain unclear. Hamas, for its part, is trying to project governance and control, recently releasing several videos showcasing how its operatives brutally beat residents accused of looting.

These incidents, gruesome as they are, suggest that Hamas’s control over the territory is slipping, and it no longer holds a monopoly on violence or commands the fear necessary to keep the population in line. The murders and beatings also dimension the grim reality that would ensue if the war ends precipitously: a re-empowered Hamas setting about getting vengeance on its enemies and reimposing its reign of terror.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Fatah, Gaza War 2023, Hamas