Mahmoud Abbas: We Don't Care What You Say

Danny Ayalon,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Danny Ayalon
Danny Ayalon is a recent Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Member of Knesset, Ambassador to the USA, and Foreign Policy Advisor to three Prime Ministers. Danny Ayalon was elected as the number one influential diplomat by Foreign Policy magazine. Based on his 25 years of experience at the forefront of Israel public diplomacy and foreign affairs, Danny Ayalon founded the hasbara organization, "The Truth About Israel". With the phenomenal success of the "The Truth About..." video series by Danny Ayalon, which were translated into 12 languages and viewed by millions around the world, Danny has renewed and redoubled the efforts for practical hasbara....

During the time that I served as Israel's Ambassador to the United States or in the government as the Deputy Foreign Minister, I was frequently asked what Abbas, and his mentor Arafat before him, could say to convince Israel and the world, prove they are for peace.

And my answer was the same then as it is now: Nothing. There was nothing Arafat could have said, and there is nothing Abbas can say, that will convince us that now they are interested in talking peace with us.

Before Abbas can sit at the negotiation table and talk, first he must do. In all his years as Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Arafat did not initiate any steps towards peace even once, and his entire raison d'être seemed to be to ensure that peace would never, ever be reached. It seems that Abbas is doing his very best to follow in Arafat's footsteps, as he has also not taken any steps or made any concrete moves towards peace, and has also been doing his best to avoid reaching a peace agreement at all costs.

There is a duality of talk here. Talk before negotiations does not count and cannot be seen as expressing real intentions for peace, as both Arafat and Abbas have said plenty, and yet there is still no peace. Talk, in this situation like in every other aspect of life, must be backed by actions. Talk is cheap, and if there is no incentive for Abbas to follow his word, no proof that he intends to do as he promised, why should Israel even sit down at the negotiation table with him?

Some people argue that Abbas has said that he will allow Israel to stay in the Western Wall and Jerusalem neighborhoods, and that surely this shows his willingness to negotiate and make concessions! To them I answer, that it is not Abbas’ place to “allow” Israel to stay in the Western Wall and the Jerusalem neighborhoods. There is also the issue of the Temple Mount. Twice the Palestinians turned down joint control and international control of the Temple Mount, in 2000 and 2008. The Palestinians want exclusivity, or in other words, Israel has no place on the Temple Mount, the holiest place in Judaism. Abbas' actions do not support his words, and therefore his words can no longer be trusted.

However, now we reach the second type of talking, that which is backed by deeds. Only once Abbas performs real actions in the physical world, proving his trustworthiness, can he earn the right to talk at the negotiations table. Israel has backed her words with actions every time, in the Oslo Accords, in the 2005 Disengagement from Gaza, in the settlement freeze of 2010, and the release of prisoners in the latest round of talks. Israel returned the Sinai to Egypt in exchange for peace, dismantling settlements, army bases and infrastructure. Now it is the Palestinian's turn, Abbas' turn to act.

Abbas has shown that like his mentor Arafat, he is extremely capable in the art of talking out of both sides of his mouth. Now he must show that he can use both of his hands to do what must be done, to do what is right, in order to secure a lasting peace treaty that will bring quiet and prosperity to the region.