The End of the Palestinian Parliament

In 1993, in the wake of the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Authority (PA) set up its parliament, the 132-member Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC); the first elections for this body took place three years later. But the PLC has been defunct since 2007 due to the conflict between the ruling Fatah faction and Hamas. Now the PA president, Mahmoud Abbas, is considering formally dissolving the legislature. Khaled Abu Toameh writes:

Abbas, for his part, does not like the PLC because he knows that many of its Fatah and Hamas members are critical of him and his policies. . . . Who needs a parliament when one has the PLO Executive Committee, the PLO Central Council, and the Fatah Central Committee, whose members can be counted on blindly to back Abbas and his decisions? The three Palestinian bodies have, in fact, replaced the PLC as the key decision-making institutions of the Palestinians. However, the only decisions these bodies take are ones that fully support Abbas in everything he says and does.

The latest move to dissolve the PLC is yet another attempt by Abbas to silence his critics and prevent an open debate among Palestinians about his policies. . . . His aides claim that the decision to dissolve the PLC was intended as preparation for long-overdue presidential and parliamentary elections. However, the continued power struggle between Abbas and Hamas makes it impossible to hold free and fair elections. The rival parties do not trust each other, so it is hard to see how, under the current circumstances, . . . they would ever agree to hold such elections. . . . By sidelining the PLC, Abbas and his loyalists have destroyed any dream the Palestinians ever had of having a functioning parliament.

By a stroke of fate, the Fatah move to dissolve the PLC came hours before the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, opened its winter session in Jerusalem. All that is left, therefore, for the Palestinians to do is to envy Israel, which has a vibrant parliament where lawmakers, including Arab MPs, are free to criticize and denounce Israeli government leaders and policies without fear of intimidation and retribution.

Read more at Gatestone

More about: Fatah, Hamas, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority, Palestinians, Politics & Current Affairs

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy