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Friday, October 9, 2009

Palestinian leader Abbas facing outrage over suspending attempt to have Gaza war crimes trials.

This is such a corrupt decision that even with Fatah politics it is causing outrage and as the final sentence implies there seems to be a reconsideration of the decision. The decision was a triumph for the US and even more for Israel since it has no doubt ruined any attempt for Hamas and Fatah to find common ground as they have been attempting to do. The Israelis have thrown cold water on the idea that there will be any negotiated solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict any time soon. It would seem that Abbas gets nothing on the political front. The article is at sfgate.


Palestinian leader Abbas facing outrage
Karin Laub, Associated Press
Thursday, October 8, 2009
(10-08) 04:00 PDT Ramallah, West Bank --
In five turbulent years in office, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has never faced as much outrage as he has over his decision to suspend efforts to get Israeli officials put on trial for war crimes in Gaza.
On Wednesday, Gaza professors threw shoes at his defaced image and West Bank commentators called for his resignation, the latest signs Abbas may have miscalculated in bowing to what Palestinian officials say was intense U.S. pressure.
Abbas is unlikely to be forced out of office because he enjoys strong Western support and has ruled the West Bank without challenge since his Islamic militant Hamas rivals drove him out of Gaza in 2007.
However, the scandal could cause lasting harm to the 74-year-old Palestinian leader's standing with voters and his ability to negotiate with Israel.
In the short term, the United States is pushing for a quick resumption of peace talks, but gaps remain wide on what it takes to get back to the table. A weakened Abbas may not be in a position to make concessions when President Obama's special Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, returns to the region this week.
"This is the worst position that Abbas has found himself in since he was elected president," said Hani al-Masri, a West Bank commentator.
At the center of the uproar is a 575-page U.N. report about Israel's three-week war in Gaza last winter, which alleges that both Israel and Hamas committed war crimes, something both sides deny.
Last week, Abbas withdrew Palestinian support for a vote in the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva to have the report sent to the U.N. General Assembly for possible action - the first of many steps toward possibly establishing war crimes tribunals. With the Palestinians out of the picture, the council set the report aside for six months.
Abbas made the decision under heavy U.S. pressure, Palestinian and Israeli officials have said. U.S. officials told Palestinian leaders that a war crimes debate would complicate efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, according to participants in the meetings.
The anger over Abbas' decision was intense because many Palestinians felt he chose not to pursue a rare opportunity to win justice for Gaza's war victims, said Mustafa Barghouti, an independent Palestinian legislator.
"Finally, there was a moment, in front of the international community, to hold Israel accountable," Barghouti said. "What he (Abbas) did, or his government did, it's now perceived that they gave Israel the leeway to escape from that."
Nearly 1,400 Palestinians were killed in the war, including hundreds of civilians, along with 13 Israelis. Israel launched the attacks to end years of Hamas rocket fire on Israeli border towns.
Abbas has been away for most of the crisis, visiting Jordan, Yemen and Italy, and is only to return to the West Bank later this week. His aides initially defended the decision, saying a deferral did not mean the report was being buried, only that Palestinian diplomats needed more time to win international support for it.
However, Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior Abbas adviser, said Wednesday that the Palestinian leadership had erred, the first such acknowledgment after six days of escalating protests.
"What happened is a mistake, but (it) can be repaired," Abed Rabbo, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, told the Voice of Palestine radio in a taped statement. "We have the courage to admit there was a mistake."
http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/10/08/MNN21A2HCH.DTL
This article appeared on page A - 5 of the San Francisco Chronicle
© 2009 Hearst Communications Inc.

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