Abbas and Sisi, the starling and the raven
Abbas and Sisi, the starling and the raven

Rabbi Eliezer is quoted in the Talmudic Tractate Bava Kama (82:b) as saying: "It is not surprising that the starling chose to visit the raven, because they are of the same species," a reference to the fact that people of similar ilk are attracted to one another because their interests are similar as well.

Mahmoud Abbas has visited Abdel Fattah el-Sisi at least ten times since he became president of Egypt,  the most recent visit at the beginning of this past week. According to Egyptian and Palestinian media, these visits centered on two things: 1.Mahmoud Abbas' desire to call an international conference that will decide to force Israel to establish another Palestinian state, this one in Judea and Samaria and governed by the PLO - and 2. Abbas' attempt to enlist Egypt's help in ending the feud with Hamas that has caused a split within the Arabs of Judea and Samaria.

Except that the real story is behind the scenes.The idea of an international conference to give the peace wagon a shove forward changes its face constantly ever since the Madrid Conference of October 1991 and its unimpressive results caused the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians to seek out other routes. Oslo, the capital of Norway, was one of them, and there have been others since then, some secret and others public, all attempts to reach an agreement between the two sides. 

An international conference is a friendly environment for whoever wants to pressure Israel because of the automatic majority the Arab side has at any forum of this type. The proximity of other heads of state gives every Israeli leader the feeling that he is under pressure and pushes him into a defensive po‎sition which convinces him that he must offer some form of payment  to the Palestinians in the form of territorial, political and/or economic concessions. 

An international conference allows the Palestinian spokesmen to set a high standard of expectations - from Israel - and to hint that if their appetite is not assuaged they will tell the world that Israel is "guilty for the lack of a peace treaty with her neighbors."

A well known principle of international conferences says that an international conference is held only after the nations that initiated it have already decided on their decisions.
A well known principle of international conferences says that an international conference is held only after the nations that initiated it have already decided on their decisions and that the entire conference, with its meetings, documents,speeches, cocktail parties and participants are all props that are there to convince those who get their information from the media that something important has actually happened at the conference.

This is just what Abbas wants fromSisi, help in organizing  an international conference to which the Palestinians will come after they are convinced that the documents exhibited there have given them everything Israel does not want to give them in direct negotiations. Abbas wants to take advantage of the growing intimacy between Israel and Egypt, a result of the joint struggle of both countries against the increasing terror in the Sinai. For Sisi to take the part of the one responsible for the "negotiations," that is the forcing of a solution on Israel under the threat that if Israel  does not give in to his dictates - Abbas', that is - it will endanger the cooperation between them and the increasing terror in the Sinai will eventually threaten Israel.

The unsolved question is whether Sisi is really prepared to adopt the idea of calling for an international conference on the Palestine issue, whether he has the time and patience needed to ensure that the conference succeeds, when his own backyard - Egypt's worsening problems - pleads for real solutions. My gut feeling is that Sisi is not overjoyed about having  this conference thrust upon him, because he hasn't the time or patience to prepare it properly and also because he does not trust the Palestinians - and perhaps not the Israelis either - to act properly, cooperate with the participants and carry out the decisions once the conference is over. Sisi is afraid that this kind of conference will enter the history books as having had no influence on the situation, just like its predecessors.

Sisi is also not sure that the world will be interested in a conference aimed at progress in achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians, because the world today understands that even if a real peace agreement is signed between Israel and the PLO, it will do nothing to solve the problems in Iraq, Lybia, Yemen and the rest of the battles and controversies that are tearing the Arab world into shreds. Sisi knows that the Arab world's level of interest in the Palestinian problem is close to zero and that explains why he has no motivation to hold a conference that Abbas sees as the only way to return to the limelight after the "Arab Spring' pushed the Palestinian issue offstage.

Even the Arabic spoken in Gaza is different than that spoken by the Arabs of Judea and Samaria.
Sisi knows that the American president's eagerness to pull his weight to force Israel to give in to the Palestinian's expectations has lessened, that Obama has despaired of finding a solution, sensing that neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians have enough people who are really interested in solving the conflict. Sisi knows that the American president - if he only wanted to - could play a constructive role at a conference of this nature, but he does not see any great desire on Obama's part to do that, mainly due to Obama's fear of another failure for his party on the way to the November elections. In conclusion, the probability that Abbas' efforts to enlist Sisi to his cause will succeed is not high.

The second issue that brought Abbas to Egypt, healing the rift between the PLO and Hamas, is no less important than the first in Abbas' eyes. He - the Palestinian chairman - sees that Hamas is already planning the celebrations of the ninth anniversary of the establishment of its state in Gaza, while his chances of establishing a similar state in Judea and aSmaria under PLO rule are fading  by the day. His efforts to enlist Egypt are the last possibility to heal the rift in the Palestinian political system, a rift that proves that there is no unified agenda to which all those who claim the existence of a Palestinian nation can agree.

The rift betwen the PLO and Hamas is just an organizational ex‎pression of the significant cultural differences between the Arabs of Judea and Samaria, who have familial and cultural ties with the Jordanian population and the Gazan Arabs who are blood relatives of the Bedouins dwelling in the SInai and the Israeli Negev. Even the Arabic spoken in Gaza is different than that spoken by the Arabs of Judea and Samaria.

Hamas' control of Gaza is not threatened in any way; even Egypt and Israel, who hold the keys to the gates leading from Gaza to the rest of the world have not gotten Gaza to accede  to their demands and interests. Actually, Sisi has no realistic  way to force anything on Hamas. Even more, Sisi worries that if he tries to pressure Hamas in Gaza, they will only increase the aid they are already giving the Jihadists in theSinai and export the terror to Egypt on a higher scale.

That's why Abbas is probably going to have to accept another disappointment. It is hard to imagine Sisi endangering Egypt by pressuring Hamas,  just to convince that terrorist organization's members to accept the leadership of the President of the "Muqata in Ramallah," their derisive title for him.

In sum, there is every reason to expect that Mahmoud Abbas' recent visit to Egypt will not yield the fruits he expects and that his wanderings around the world are the personification of the Arab proverb: "any movement is blessed" - it doesn't matter what you achieve, nor does it matter what you do, the main thing is that you are in motion, raising dust and creating the impression that you are accomplishing something. Abbas is a master at creating illusions and that is what he is doing nstead of trying  the one thing that could bring results, sitting down with Netanyahu until they hammer out a solution.

This is how his foreign policy is carried out, but everyone must remember the fact that he, that very same Mahmoud Abbas, is the man who was in charge of funding the PLO terrorists during the days when he was Arafat's deputy and right hand man.

This week Israel remembers its fallen IDF soldiers and terror victims. Mahmoud Abbas is responsible for the deaths of not a few of them. May their memories be blessed.

Translated by Rochel Sylvetsky, Oped and Judaism editor, Arutz Sheva English site.