Waiting for the Palestinian Godot

Mahmoud Abbas is serving the tenth year of his four-year term as president of the Palestinian Authority. What he lacks in legitimacy he makes up in consistency. Back in January, Abbas spoke to a group of Arabs in Jerusalem and commented on the alleged Palestinian right of return. Repeating an assertion he had made before and has made since, Abbas said that he could not negotiate away the absolute right of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to return to sovereign Israel.

The speech escaped the notice of all but a few observers. Elhanan Miller reported on it here for the Times of Israel. Noting one such statement by Abbas last month, Elliott Abrams concluded that Abbas had manifested his aversion to any peace deal.

We never thought Abbas desired to make a deal or that one was in the offing. Abbas is more interested in patching things up with Hamas than with Israel. Now that Abbas’s Fatah faction has announced a reconciliation agreement with Hamas, Abbas has made his choice plain.

Ari Shavit takes the occasion to demonstrate the repetitive nature of the production. It is repetitive in the style of Groundhog Day. Shavit brings his personal witness to bear in “Waiting for the Palestinian Godot.” Shavit admonishes interested observers: “Take heed: Twenty years of fruitless talks have led to nothing. There is no document that contains any real Palestinian concession with Abbas’ signature. None. There never was, and there never will be.” He concludes:

Time passes and the experiences we’ve accumulated have taught both [Yossi] Beilin and me more than a few things. But many others haven’t learned a thing. They’re still allowing Abbas to make fools of them, as they wait for the Palestinian Godot, who will never show up.

Shavit does not excuse himself from the harsh judgment that he renders. As for the most prominent official among the fools to whom Shavit is alluding, however, the intelligent reader will have to draw his own inferences.

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