How Mahmoud Abbas’s Bid for International Recognition Is Backfiring

Aug. 31 2022

Since 2010, the Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas—having rejected Israeli offers of statehood along with further negotiations—has pursued a strategy of seeking membership in international organizations for a “state of Palestine.” His goal is both to wage lawfare against Israel through such institutions as the International Criminal Court and, eventually, to gain recognition for a Palestinian state as the 194th member of the United Nations. Besides the fact that at least parts of this “Palestine 194” campaign are in violation of the Oslo Accords, it also is starting to raise other problems, as David May and Zachary Fesen explain:

The Palestine 194 campaign converged with the PA’s increasingly authoritarian tendencies when the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) released its report on the “state of Palestine” last month. This was a routine review triggered by the PA’s 2014 accession to the UN Convention against Torture. While CAT, a subsidiary of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), is meant to review all convention signatories every four years, this was its first review of the PA.

Though Abbas has pursued international recognition to conceal his despotism, his accession to CAT has done the opposite. CAT’s report underscored the PA’s slide into authoritarianism by calling on the government to limit the duration of declared states of emergency, protect freedom of expression, and restore the Palestinian Legislative Council, [dissolved in 2018 after many years of inactivity]. Along with noting allegations of PA security forces’ culpability in torture, lack of legal safeguards afforded to PA prisoners, and PA arbitrary arrests of critics, the review highlighted the 2021 death of the Abbas critic (and 2021 legislative candidate) Nizar Banat at the hands of Palestinian security forces.

Two decades of Abbas’s rule have left the Palestinians divided, lacking democratic protections, politically hopeless, and on the precipice of an ugly succession battle. The aging Palestinian president’s increasing authoritarianism has gone hand in hand with his decreasing popularity. Western governments should make clear to Abbas that Palestine 194 is a dead end.

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Read more at National Interest

More about: Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority, United Nations

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism