How They Made Abbas the Enemy of Peace

How They Made Abbas the Enemy of Peace

By Odeh Bisharat 

Don't listen to Netanyahu's people. Unlike most Israeli leaders, who sentence future generations on both sides to the mire of the occupation, Abbas is still pushing for an agreed solution
 
We came out of the meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah last week in awe of this courageous man who says things that even a leader in the community of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship wouldn’t say in public, for fear of losing a few votes from the clan in the local elections. But Abbas says them in front of a crowd, naturally and out of deep conviction.
 
Then my thoughts wandered to the esteemed occupants of the prime minister’s residence on Balfour Street, and I wondered how they managed to turn Abbas into the ultimate enemy of peace, a terrorist according to some. And not a conventional terrorist, God forbid, but a terrorist when it comes to diplomatic negotiations.
 
Around two months ago, the authors Gabriel Moked, 84, and Mohammed Ali Taha, 77, (I always said the future belongs to the old) established a forum of Jewish and Arab writers and intellectuals. I, who will soon turn 60, joined as a representative of the younger generation.
 
The forum’s principles are as follows: an end to the occupation, two states based on the June 1967 borders, an open Jerusalem that houses the capital of each state, and a solution to the refugee problem based on the Arab Peace Initiative. The forum decided to meet with the presidents of each state to present its program.
 
We met with Abbas last week, the day after Haaretz reported, citing Israeli intelligence sources, that his health had deteriorated. While it’s obvious that he’s no longer a teenager, what he told us with such determination, clarity and faith sounded like the words of a young man who believes in his ability to topple the conventions we have lived with for decades.
 
“What today seems impossible, tomorrow will seem as normal as could be,” he said. “We shall discover that we have known each other for thousands of years, during which time neighborly and cooperative relations thrived. If we will have any regrets, they will be only for the recent decades of conflict between us.”