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Tuesday, May 24, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Israeli intel: Palestinians' Abbas feared suffering Mubarak's fate

JERUSALEM — Israel has determined that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas wanted to resign after establishing a Palestinian state in the West Bank.


A Foreign Ministry report asserted that Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, would not seek re-election as PA chairman. Instead, the 76-year-old Abbas, who feared being overthrown as the rulers of Egypt and Tunisia, was working tirelessly to gain international support for the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state in September 2011.

"Recent events in the Arab world have led Abu Mazen to adopt an exit strategy," the report said.

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The report was drafted by an unidentified senior official and relayed to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman amid Israeli plans to block international recognition of a Palestinian state, Middle East Newsline reported. The report said Abbas, who seeks to become the "spiritual father of the Palestinian nation," was acting solely to ensure his legacy while exposing the PA to Hamas infiltration.

"He subjugates Palestinian interests in order to guarantee his place in history," the report said. "Abbas has decided not to run for Palestinian Authority chairman in the next elections, primarily following developments in the Arab world, and is focusing on building his heritage by leaving 'on his own accord' and not being ousted like [Egyptian President Hosni] Mubarak."

The report, based on Israeli intelligence, determined that Abbas was not interesting in reaching any agreement with Israel. Abbas was portrayed as fearful of any agreement that would make him vulnerable to accusations that he betrayed the Palestinian people.

"It can be clearly stated that Abu Mazen is not a partner to advancing the political process, but quite the opposite," the report said. "Abu Mazen is operating along this line with determination, and will continue to do so. He's not interested in compromises or in negotiations with Israel, even though he estimated that a one-sided UN resolution will bring about a Palestinian-Israeli conflict, diminishing the chances of an actual Palestinian state, or at least postponing it for a long while."

Abbas was said to have pursued a tougher policy with Israel than his predecessor, the late Yasser Arafat. The report said Abbas was unwilling to make the concessions that Arafat had been considering because the current chairman wanted to compensate for his refusal to wage war with the Jewish state.

"Contrary to Arafat, Abu Mazen has been demonstrating a lack of willingness to compromise and even tougher stances than those presented by Arafat, all part of his attempt to 'compensate' for relinquishing an armed battle," the report said. "This is apparent in issues of refugees, territorial swaps, settlements and Jewish construction in Jerusalem."

The report said Abbas has already prepared a retirement home outside the West Bank or Gaza Strip. The PA chairman was said to have established a home and other assets in Jordan or a Gulf Cooperation Council state.

Still, the PA chairman was said to be struggling to promote his policy within the international community. The report said Abbas was forced to appease both his so-called Arab wing and Western wing, which often clashed, particularly on the issue of Hamas participation in the PA.

"Establishing a national unity government with Hamas, without following through on the Quartet's guidelines, might hinder Abu Mazen's attempt to appease the West," the report said. "Europe's insistence to keep [Salam] Fayad as prime minster, counting on him to build state institutions and manage finances, makes it hard to finalize the reconciliation while pacifying the West — without which the 'exit strategy' will not be completed."

Abbas was said to have directed the signing of a reconciliation agreement with Hamas to satisfy the Arab wing. At the same time, Abbas plans to tour Western capitals during retirement.

The report warned that Hamas could torpedo any reconciliation. Another scenario was that the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state could spark soaring hopes that would lead to disappointment and a backlash against the Abbas regime.

"It could create very high hopes among Palestinians ahead of September, which might cause a 'blowout' when the Palestinians come to realize a day later their reality hasn't really changed and even worsened in certain aspects," the report said.

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