Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas Flash 90
Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas last week called Israel’s new president Isaac Herzog to congratulate him on assuming office and then suddenly expressed his willingness to make peace with Israel.

Is Abbas genuine? Or is he making this peace offer because he’s in serious trouble at home?

As we will see belo, it appears that the 85-year-old Palestinian Arab leader is playing the Israel card to divert attention from a serious crisis in the territories under his control and because he perceives the new Israeli government as weak.

Abbas knows that Herzog has ideas about a solution to the now more than 100-year-old conflict that can be described as left-wing. So, Abbas didn’t call the new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett when he was sworn in last month because he knows that Bennett doesn’t believe in the so-called "two-state solution."

If we take a look at the grocery list of preconditions for renewing the peace process with Israel that the Palestinian Authority leadership submitted to the Biden Administration in the United States, we will see that nothing has changed.

The PA stuck to its maximalist approach to peace negotiations with Israel and submitted a long list of demands that Israel will never accept even with the presence of leftist parties and an Islamist Arab list in the current Israeli government.

Here are some of the demands in the PA list - which contains other demands that Israel will reject:

-The PA demands that Israel reopen the Orient House in Arab Jerusalem. This mansion was used by the PA for political purposes, something that was forbidden under the Oslo Accords. Orient House was closed by the Israeli police in 2001 during the first year of the Second Intifada after the PA started to use it as a headquarters.

-Restoring the status quo on the Temple Mount is another demand of the PA, including the demand that Israel must reduce police activity near the Al-Aqsa mosque while it must also reduce the number of Jews that visit the Temple Mount.

-The PA, furthermore, demands that Israel ceases evictions of Arabs from their homes in Jerusalem. This is clearly a reference to a recent court order that enabled the eviction of Arab squatters from the Shimon HaTzadik in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in the vicinity of The Old City of Jerusalem.

-The PA also demands a total stop on "settlement" construction and to Jewish construction projects in what is commonly called ‘East Jerusalem’ (in fact, most Arabs live in northern Jerusalem).

-Israel must also allow Palestinian Arabs into the country to reunify with their Israeli Arab families.

-In addition, Israel must issue more work permits for Palestinian Arab laborers and return confiscated weapons from the Palestinian Athority security forces.

The question is why Abbas suddenly is interested in renewed peace talks with Israel.

The answer is twofold. First the hugely unpopular PA leader has to deal with a serious uprising against his regime after his security forces brutally beat to death Nizar Banat, a human rights activist who was very active on social media and frequently criticized Abbas and the PA.

Banat was beaten with clubs and other items by more than 20 PA policemen while he was sleeping in his home on June 20th of this year.

His death triggered large-scale protests by crowds of Palestinian Arabs, something that the PA leaders obviously didn’t expect.

The demonstrations continue to this very day and have become an uprising against Abbas’ corrupt regime similar to the uprisings against Arab dictators in various Middle Eastern countries at the beginning of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ in 2011 and 2012.

Apparently, the Palestinian Authority population has crossed the fear point and is no longer afraid to go out to the streets and show its disgust and anger with the Palestinian Authority and Abbas in particular.

The crowds chanted slogans demanding the aging PA leader step down or fire the Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh, while they also refered to the PA as a “police state” and to Abbas’ rule as a “dictatorship”.

Several demonstrators, who didn’t bother hiding their identity whiel being interviewed, openly criticized the PA and its leader Abbas.

One of them was Abu Shaker Milhem, who even said that he preferred to live under Israeli rule once again, as he did before the 1993 Oslo Accords.

“Bring back the occupation! Our people are no longer able to pay the price of two occupations (one by Israel and the second by the PA). Yes, we want to return to the days before the 1993 Oslo Accords, which have become a new Nakba for our people,” Milhem said.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was for most Palestinian Arabs Abbas’ decision to cancel the parliamentary elections on May 20th and the presidential election that was scheduled for the end of June.

Ever since Abbas announced his decision at the end of April, Palestinian Arabs have taken to the streets or written about their discontent with the PA leader on social media. In these posts they condemned Abbas for his repressive measures against protesters and journalists.

The situation became worse after PA security forces brutally assaulted 4 Palestinian journalists during a demonstration against Abbas in Ramallah last week.

One of the four assaulted journalists was Akil Awadi who covered the demonstration for the Palestinian Arab radio station 24FM.

Awadi told reporters that he was beaten in his chest and legs and that he had bruises all over his body. The PA security forces dragged the journalist to a police station where the harassment continued until Awadi’s blood pressure became dangerously low. The PA police then ordered an ambulance that took Awadi to the emergency care department of a hospital in Ramallah.

The second reason Abbas makes peace overtures toward Israel is that he has noticed that the new Israeli government is reaching out to Jordan and Egypt, two allies of the Palestinian Authority.

Israeli opposition leader Benyamin Netanyahu has sharply criticized the overtures that the new PM Naftali Bennett has made in the case of Jordan and said that the fact that Bennett demanded nothing in return for the sale of half a billion cubic meters of water showed Jordan that the new Israeli government is weak.

This weakness is dangerous for Israel’s national security, Netanyahu, said but his claim that the water deal would ultimately benefit Iran seemed unrealistic.

The Bennett government, furthermore, has shown it doesn’t hesitate to take tough measures if necessary.

Last week the Israeli Security Cabinet led by Bennett decided to freeze funds that are used by the PA to execute its ‘pay to slay’ policy. Israel collects taxes and import duties on behalf of the PA which are subsequently transferred to jailed Palestinian Arab terrorists and their families.

The Defense Ministry Economic Counter-Terrorism Staff in Israel reported that the Palestinian Authority transferred NIS 597 million in indirect support of terrorism in 2020.

The new Israeli government also introduced new measures against Hamas in Gaza and responded to the so-called balloon terror with airstrikes on military targets in Gaza.

The introduction of a long-lasting ceasefire with Hamas is, in addition, made conditional upon the return of two captive Israelis who crossed the border with Gaza years ago and upon the return of the bodies of two IDF soldiers who were killed during an Israeli offensive in Gaza during the summer war of 2014.