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      Chanukah Reminder – Abbas' Term has Expired

      MKs receive a Chanukah gift bearing a reminder that Mahmoud Abbas is no longer the legal chairman of the PA.
      By Maayana Miskin
      First Publish: 12/1/2010, 9:53 PM / Last Update: 12/1/2010, 10:31 PM

      Samaria Regional Council

      Members of Knesset have received a Chanukah gift that combines holiday greetings with a friendly reminder that Mahmoud Abbas is no longer the chairman of the Palestinian Authority.

      The gift, sent by Mattot Arim (Cities of Israel) and the Samaria Regional Council, consists of a printed copy of the blessing recited after meals (Birkat Hamazon) and the blessings that are said over Chanukah candles. It bears the words “Long live Ehud Olmert, Prime Minister of Israel.”

      “Funny, isn't it?” says an attached note. “Olmert isn't Prime Minister anymore – his term expired a long time ago. And that was it. Did you know that Abu Mazen's [Abbas'] term expired a long time ago too?”

      The activists were referring to the fact that Abbas was elected to serve as PA Chairman for four years, beginning in early 2005. His term ended in 2009; however, since then, he has repeatedly postponed elections.

      Abbas and his supporters say they cannot hold new elections before reconciling with Hamas, which split from the Fatah-led PA in 2007 and created a breakaway Hamas-led PA in Gaza. Hamas leaders are vehemently opposed to holding PA elections before their terrorist group reunites with Fatah to lead the PA together again.

      Since Abbas' term expired nearly two years ago, he is irrelevant and cannot supply the “goods,” activists said Wednesday. “Why should we make any effort to hold negotiations with a leader whose term of office has expired?” they asked. “Why make painful gestures – for a former leader whose term is up?”

      Gershon Mesika, head of the Samaria Regional Council, said, “The gift to the Knesset members is perhaps silly... but the continuation of negotiations with the 'expired' Abu Mazen, which are liable to include a freeze that will include hundreds of thousands, is in itself a humorous procedure.”

      Several MKs said Wednesday that they backed the idea behind the gift. Said MK Ayoub Kara (Likud), “The biggest absurdity is that we know that Abu Mazen cannot make binding decisions in the negotiations, but we go on conducting them with him anyway, something that infuriates anyone with human emotions.”

      The activists had support even within the left-of-center Kadima party. “Maybe those who sent the gift think it's a joke, but it's not funny to me that the Israeli government is being dragged by external and internal pressures into conducting negotiations with those who don't even have any ability to make binding decisions,” said Kadima MK Yulia Shamalov-Berkovich.

      A number of MKs told members of Mattot Arim that they would raise the issue in the Knesset plenum and in the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.