Three Arab Rulers Join Hands to Oust Abbas as Palestinian Leader
Saudi King Salman, the UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and Egypt’s President Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi, have decided it is time for 81-year-old Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmud Abbas (Abu Mazen) to go and hand over to a younger figure.
This decision is widely supported across the Gulf emirates.
Abu Mazen has been the sole Palestinian boss for nine years, having repeatedly postponed elections to any ruling bodies. This week, he was given a broad hint to step down with honor through the popular bi-weekly column of Jihad al-Khazen, called Ayoon wa Azan (Eyes and Ears), which is published in the big London Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat.
This column is watched for its excellent sources on behind-the-scenes doings in the Arab world.
DEBKA Weekly’s sources report that first, the UAE Crown Prince (nicknamed MBZ) flew the columnist to Bahrain and then continued their interview at his palace in Abu Dhabi.
A confidant and friend of Abu Mazen, al-Khazen was tipped off that the leading Arab rulers had concluded that the veteran Palestinian leader had become a nuisance and the time had come for him to step down and stop disrupting their policies. Mohamed bin Zayed explained that Abbas’s stubborn refusal to sit down with Israel to negotiate a peace accord was an obstacle in the path of the objective shared by the oil rulers and Egypt to promote the 2002 Arab peace plan which, without his interference, they would have been ready to amend in Israel’s favor.
The Al-Hayat columnist was told that Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had already informed Riyadh, Cairo and Abu Dhabi, that after such amendments were introduced, he would be willing to enter into open or covert negotiations with the Arab rulers for a final accord that would cover the Palestinian issue and result in the signing of an epic peace treaty establishing normal relations with the Arab world.
MBZ accused Abu Mazen of staging meetings with Palestinian Hamas leaders (this week in Qatar), although he had no real intention of burying the hatchet with the rival group, for the sole purpose of fabricating a roadblock against Israel going forward with any meaningful diplomacy vis-a-vis the Palestinians.
By such moves, Abbas was getting in the way of the Arab rulers’ plans.
Following those interviews, on June 11, Jihad al-Khazen dedicated his column to calling on Abu Mazen to step down and clear the way for a younger leader.
All week, Abbas and his inner circle ignored the public humiliation, but Wednesday, June 15, they harshly berated the columnist, formerly a good friend.
That same day, Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, in the guise of “a senior security source,” shot a broadside against the Palestinian leader. Under his leadership, said the “security source”, West Bank and Gaza Strip Palestinians had become totally estranged, while Abu Mazen spent more time globetrotting than at home. He went on to cite the latest polls which showed that 95 percent of West Bank Palestinians wanted Abu Mazen to resign.
According to DEBKA Weekly’s sources, Lieberman’s charges were closely coordinated with a mixed group of wire pullers who share the same objective: UAE Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed, his close Palestinian friend Mohamed Dahlan (once the strongman of Gaza and currently one of the contenders for the top Palestinian job) and Martin Schlaff, the Jewish Austrian millionaire, who is an associate both of Israel’s Defense Minister and the Palestinian Dahlan.
The plan for Abu Mazan’s ouster took off this week.