by Hugh Fitzgerald
The EU and UN have asked Mahmoud Abbas to reschedule the elections he has just “postponed.” Oh, for god’s sake. Get real, EU and UN. Mahmoud Abbas didn’t just “postpone” Palestinian elections. That’s what he said he was doing. But you don’t “postpone” elections if, no matter when you hold them, you will suffer a crushing defeat. That’s not what despots such as Abbas do. There’s little fun in being a despot, a President-For-Life in the sixteenth year of your four-year-term, if you can’t call the whole thing – that is, elections — off. He called it a “postponement” knowing full well that he’d had his short-lived dalliance with elections, but now it was been long past time to put paid to the whole silly business. Things were getting entirely out of hand. First there was Nasser al-Kidwa, refusing to endorse Abbas’ parliamentary list and instead joining Marwan Barghouti in a Kidwa-Bargouti “Freedom” list of parliamentary candidates. Then there was Mohammad Dahlan who, not to be outdone, came out with his “Future” list of candidates. And of course, let’s not forget the Hamas list.
But that was not the worst of it. Mahmoud Abbas realized that he would not just lose control of the Palestinian parliament – his Fatah list was predicted to win only 30 of the Parliament’s 132 seats — but that Abbas himself would lose the presidential election, and by a lot, to any of his rivals – the Hamas candidate, whoever he might be, or Marwan Barghouti (running from an Israeli prison) or Mohammad Dahlan (running from his exile in the United Arab Emirates), each of whom was predicted, if matched against Abbas, to win at least 60% of the vote.
The latest on Abbas’ elections farce is here: “EU, UN call on Abbas to set new date for Palestinian elections,” by Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post, May 1, 2021:
The Palestinian Authority should set a new date for the Legislative Council elections and Israel should allow Palestinians to cast their ballots in Jerusalem, the European Union and the United Nations said on Friday.
“A new date for elections should be set without delay,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Friday.
Both he and UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland spoke out on the matter after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas postponed the May 22nd Legislative Council elections, but failed to set a new election date.
Abbas “postponed” the elections, but “failed to set a new election date”? Quelle surprise. And he won’t do it until Israel promises that every last Palestinian in East Jerusalem can vote right where he or she lives. Israel won’t allow that, for it’s a transparent way for Abbas to reinforce a factitious claim to East Jerusalem, but will insist that it hasn’t the slightest objection to the Palestinians who live in East Jerusalem voting, as long as they do so in the suburbs. Abbas will with feigned outrage reply that “we cannot be dictated to by Israel where we vote in our own land” and “this is one more Zionist trick to try to break our bond to Al-Quds, and we won’t have it,” so “until Israel agrees to abide by international law and changes its policy” there won’t be “the elections that we Palestinians had all been hoping for.”
Abbas blamed Israel for the delay, explaining it had rejected a request to allow for Palestinians to vote in Jerusalem. Israel has not issued a formal public response on the matter.
Borrell also spoke of Israeli culpability.
“We reiterate our call on Israel to facilitate the holding of such elections across all of the Palestinian territory, including in East Jerusalem,” Borrell said. “The EU has consistently expressed its support for credible, inclusive and transparent elections for all Palestinians,” he added.
The egregious Josep Borrell describes East Jerusalem, which has been a part of Israel since 1980, as “Palestinian territory.” No, it’s disputed territory, and it happens to be part of the land assigned, under the Mandate for Palestine, to the future Jewish National Home. On what theory does Borrell claim East Jerusalem for the Palestinians? And how can he with a straight face refer to EU “support for credible, inclusive, and transparent elections for all Palestinians”? Last I looked, there have been no such Palestinian elections for the past sixteen years., indeed no elections at all. Apparently all that EU “support” has led to nothing.
The last elections for the Legislative Council were held in 2006, with Israel allowing eligible Palestinians living in Jerusalem to cast their ballots in east Jerusalem Post offices.
At issue for both Palestinians and Israel is the issue of sovereignty. Israel annexed east Jerusalem from Jordan in the aftermath of the Six-Day War and formally applied sovereignty to it in 1980.
In 2006, the famously appeasing Ehud Olmert was Prime Minister of Israel. It was Olmert who in 2008 offered to surrender nearly all of the West Bank — 94% — to Mahmoud Abbas, with Israel also offering to transfer land to the Palestinians equal in area to the 6% of the West Bank Israel would be keeping, and to place the Old City under international rule. It was Olmert who allowed Palestinians living in East Jerusalem to cast their ballots at post offices in that part of the city; no other Israeli leader would have done so. Olmert cared little about how such voting might be used to strengthen a Palestinian claim to East Jerusalem; he seemed not to understand such things. Furthermore, since he was willing to give up control of the Old City to international control for the sake of “peace,” why would he not have wanted to curry favor with Abbas by letting the Palestinians vote in East Jerusalem in 2006, despite the damage such a vote would do to Israel’s claim to the undivided city? It doesn’t matter what Olmert the arch-appeaser did once. His folly in allowing Palestinians to vote at post offices in East Jerusalem was not a law, and was not binding on later Israeli prime ministers, any more than Olmert’s unhinged offer to put the Old City under international control has bound any of his successors.
Jordan relinquished its claim to east Jerusalem in 1988 and the Palestinians hold that east Jerusalem should be the capital of its future state and included within its final borders. The ability of Palestinians to cast their votes in Jerusalem is a sign that the PA has a foothold in Jerusalem, a step which Israel opposes and which the Palestinians support.
That’s exactly why Israel will not allow Palestinians to cast their votes in East Jerusalem: it would give them a foothold in the city, a purchase to pursue their illegitimate claim.
Wennesland said that “the holding of transparent and inclusive elections throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in East Jerusalem, as stipulated in prior agreements, remains essential for renewing the legitimacy and credibility of Palestinian institutions and opening the path to re-establishing Palestinian national unity.”
“Occupied Palestinian Territory”? Mr. Wennesland — like so very many — needs to read the Mandate for Palestine, and study those Mandate maps. A salutary shock should ensue, when he realizes that all of Judea and Samaria (a/k/a the “West Bank”) was intended by the League of Nations to be a part of the Jewish National Home. And which “prior agreements” about East Jerusalem does Mr. Wennesland have in mind? Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1980. If Wennesland is referring to the one-time permission given by Ehud Olmert for inhabitants of east Jerusalem to vote in a Palestinian election, he should be politely reminded that Olmert’s folly never became law, and did not commit his successors, any more than they were bound by his 2008 offer to put the Old City under international control.
Israel is not going to let Mahmoud Abbas use those Palestinian elections to plant the Palestinian flag more solidly in East Jerusalem. Nor will it permit the EU or the UN, the two kangaroo courts where the Jewish state is perennially in the dock, to dictate what Israel “must” do in its own capital, that has been the capital of the Jewish people for 3000 years.
Israel will do nothing to prevent the Palestinian inhabitants of East Jerusalem from casting their ballots in the suburbs just beyond the city limits. That is enough. That is more than enough.
First published in Jihad Watch.