Egypt’s El-Sisi Slaps down Palestinian Leader Abbas with an Impatient Ultimatum

Secretary of State John F. Kerry surprised much of his audience Saturday, Dec. 4, when he warned that the collapse of the Palestinian Authority would result in “chaos, lawlessness and desperation”
In a strongly-worded speech at the Saban Forum in Washington, he declared that its fall would “reflect profound distrust between Israelis and Palestinians amid a stalled peace process” and have “devastating effects on the Middle East.”
Kerry’s informed listeners wondered at the apparent gap in his knowledge: Hadn’t he noticed that the Palestinian Authority has been dysfunctional as a ruling administration since 2013? Not much is still functioning in Ramallah outside the PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ office. But it is no secret that most of his staff, like he himself, are rarely at home and usually to be found traveling abroad.
Even the seven Palestinian battalions and intelligence services supposed to maintain security in the Palestinian sector function haphazardly at best.
Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Egypt’s Fatteh El-Sisi know that the PA has long ceased to be a viable, working administration although they may not say so in public.
DEBKA Weekly’s Middle East sources report that the two Arab rulers and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu may work together to overcome problems in the Palestinian realm as they come up – but only on a day-to-day, local level. None of them has a comprehensive panacea for the intractable Palestinian predicament.
Cairo and Jerusalem are in sync on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and the war on the Islamic State affiliate in Sinai, while Amman and Jerusalem often act in harness for the Palestinian population of Jerusalem. Jordan provides funding for the Muslim authorities, especially on Temple Mount, with some strings attached for maintaining the calm.
But all three are flummoxed when it comes to reining in the current wave of Palestinian terror against Israelis.
Netanyahu and his defense minister Moshe Ya’alon cling to the belief that their half-measures will put a stop to the daily stabbings, car-ramming, firebombs, rock-throwing and occasional shootings plaguing the country. Most Israeli security and intelligence quarters fear that, without firmer measures, this lackadaisical strategy will eventually blow up into large-scale terrorist attacks.
This week, the Egyptian president is cracking the whip to make the Palestinian leader get his act together. He threatened to cut off ties with Ramallah and switch off the flow of Arab funding, unless Abbas complies with a three-point ultimatum:
1. Make peace with his bitter enemy Muhammad Dahlan, the former master terrorist, who reinvented himself as an international tycoon and the hottest contender for the Palestinian leadership. He has won the confidence of the Egyptian president as senior consultant on Palestinian affairs.
If Abbas refuses, the United Arab Emirates, host to Dahlan’s business ventures, will suspend economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority.
2. Come to terms with the Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip and hammer out a common policy on Israel. For years, the PA chairman let the feud between his Fatah party and Hamas simmer unattended.
3. Reassert Palestinian Authority rule over Gaza.
According to our sources, the PA chairman was completely bowled over by the ultimatum from Cairo and has yet to send a reply.

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