Mahmoud Abbas’s Graft Has Undermined the Peace Process

When the Oslo Accords were signed in September 1993, it was hoped that they would lead to the end of the Israel-Palestinian conflict and the establishment of an enduring system of Palestinian self-government. Their failure to do so has been blamed on many factors, but one of the least noted is the endemic corruption within the Palestinian Authority (PA), established pursuant to the accords in 1994. To Khaled Abu Toameh, this widespread self-dealing is perhaps the greatest impediment to peace:

The allegations of corruption, leveled against the Palestinian Authority almost from day one, severely undermined the credibility of the former PLO chairman Yasir Arafat and his successor, Mahmoud Abbas, in the eyes of their people. . . . One of the main priorities of these two leaders has been to prove that, when it comes to dealing with Israel, they are not “getting into bed with the enemy” for personal profit. Countering this perception has superseded their considerations of making peace with Israel.

From the very beginning of the “peace process” in 1993, many Palestinians saw it as a “transaction” between the Israeli government and the corrupt PLO leadership that was hungry for money after being dumped by many Arab countries as retaliation for supporting the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. After the liberation of Kuwait a year later, the oil-rich emirates and other Gulf states decided to cut off funds to the PLO, causing the organization one of its most serious financial crises.

The Oslo Accords, however, saved the PLO from collapsing once the Arab financial aid was replaced with massive funds by the United States, Europe, and other countries. Many Palestinians observed that the only things the “peace process” brought about were the enrichment of senior PLO officials and their family members and associates who greedily siphoned publicly designated funds to drive luxury cars and build extravagant mansions, particularly in Ramallah and the Gaza Strip.

Western donors’ failure, or refusal, in the first two decades after the “peace process,” to hold the Palestinian Authority accountable for their outlandish abuse of funds was one of the main reasons most Palestinians lost faith in the Oslo Accords. Moreover, it was also one of the primary reasons so many Palestinians were radicalized and ultimately voted for Hamas in the 2006 parliamentary election.

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Mahmoud Abbas, Oslo Accords, Palestinian Authority, Yasir Arafat

An Israeli Buffer Zone in the Gaza Strip Doesn’t Violate International Law

 The IDF announced on Thursday that it is safe for residents to return to some of the towns and villages near the Gaza Strip that have been abandoned since October 7. Yet on the same day, rocket sirens sounded in one of those communities, Kibbutz Mefalsim. To help ensure security in the area, Israel is considering the creation of a buffer zone within the Strip that would be closed to Palestinian civilians and buildings. The U.S. has indicated, however, that it would not look favorably on such a step.

Avraham Shalev explains why it’s necessary:

The creation of a security buffer along the Gaza-Israel border serves the purpose of destroying Hamas’s infrastructure and eliminating the threat to Israel. . . . Some Palestinian structures are practically on the border, and only several hundred yards away from Israeli communities such as Kfar Aza, Kerem Shalom, and Sderot. The Palestinian terrorists that carried out the murderous October 7 attacks crossed into Israel from many of these border-adjacent areas. Hamas officials have already vowed that “we will do this again and again. The al-Aqsa Flood [the October 7th massacre] is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth.”

In 2018 and 2019, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad organized mass marches towards the Israeli border with the goal of breaking into Israel. Billed by Palestinians as “the Great March of Return,” its name reveals its purpose—invasion. Although the marches were supposedly non-violent, they featured largescale attacks on Israeli forces as well as arson and damage to Israeli agriculture and civilian communities. Moreover, the October 7 massacre was made possible by Hamas’s prepositioning military hardware along the border under false cover of civilian activity. The security perimeter is intended to prevent a reprise of these events.

Shalev goes on to dismantle the arguments put forth about why international law prohibits Israel from creating the buffer zone. He notes:

By way of comparison, following the defeat of Nazi Germany, France occupied the Saar [River Valley] directly until 1947 and then indirectly until reintegration with Germany in 1957, and the Allied occupation of Berlin continued until the reunification of Germany in 1990. The Allies maintained their occupation long after the fall of the Nazi regime, due to the threat of Soviet invasion and conquest of West Berlin, and by extension Western Europe.

Read more at Kohelet

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, International Law, Israeli Security