Palestinian official bashes ‘dictatorial’ Abbas

Yasser Abed Rabbo accuses PA president of intentionally undermining the Palestinian UN bid by presenting it too quickly

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Yasser Abed Rabbo speaks to journalists in the West Bank city of Ramallah on October 16, 2014. (AFP/Abbas Momani)
Yasser Abed Rabbo speaks to journalists in the West Bank city of Ramallah on October 16, 2014. (AFP/Abbas Momani)

A senior official in the Palestine Liberation Organization has accused Mahmoud Abbas of intentionally undermining the Palestinian Authority’s UN bid to set a timetable for an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, dubbing the PA president’s political conduct “dictatorial.”

The minutes of a meeting between Yasser Abed Rabbo, a former negotiator and the secretary of the PLO’s Executive Committee, and committee member Hanna Amira on November 26, were leaked Saturday by the Gaza-based news agency Safa. The meeting revealed the animosity between Abbas and Abbed Rabbo, who was reportedly relieved of his duties by the Palestinian Authority president earlier this month.

According to Abed Rabbo, Abbas is rushing to bring a Palestinian draft resolution to the UN Security Council without even securing the nine votes necessary for its adoption, thereby rendering an American veto unnecessary. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said on Sunday that the Palestinian proposal would be submitted to the UN on Monday.

“He doesn’t want to embarrass America,” Abed Rabbo reportedly said of Abbas, adding that he does not understand what good a new UN resolution will do after the Palestinians won recognition as a nonmember observer state in the international body in November 2012.

Mahmoud Abbas and Yasser Abed Rabbo in better days (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (left) and PLO official Yasser Abed Rabbo (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

“We’ve already obtained a much more important decision, namely the recognition of Palestine as a non-member observer state in the UN,” Abed Rabbo said, “but we’ve done nothing to implement that decision.”

In recent weeks, Abbas has repeatedly spoken of the Palestinian imperative to turn to the UN and other international forums in the absence of a credible Israeli peace partner. Abbas told the Arab League on November 29 that he would turn to the Security Council immediately “with or without an American blessing.”

“We can wait no longer; the status quo is untenable,” he said.

In the leaked minutes, Abed Rabbo also accused Abbas of insincerity in seeking to join the International Criminal Court.

“It is impossible for him to turn to the ICC, and he will never carry out such a step,” the PLO official was quoted as saying, citing a promise Abbas made to US Secretary of State John Kerry to that effect.

Abed Rabbo claimed that Abbas had met secretly with Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen, who asked him to calm the security situation in Jerusalem in return for Israeli confidence-building measures. A source close to Abbas denied on Sunday that such a meeting ever took place, the Ma’an news agency reported.

“Abu Mazen [Abbas] wants to consolidate all authorities with his cronies,” Abed Rabbo was quoted as saying, claiming that Abbas was planning to hand over Abed Rabbo’s authorities to Ramzi Khoury, head of the Palestine National Fund. “He acts in a dictatorial way, wishing to control everything related to money.”

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