Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, has denied U.S. claims that the Palestinians have refused to enter peace talks with Israel according to the Associated Press (September 21, 2018). This is the same Mahmoud Abbas, who like his predecessor Yasser Arafat, walked out of peace negotiations with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008. Mahmoud Abbas has done nothing but evade bilateral negotiations with Israel while incessantly repeating the longstanding irredentist demands.
Palestinians, it seems, have much greater concerns to attend to than worry about President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Mahmoud Abbas’ (Abu Mazen) leadership has been less than an inspiring. His presidency of the Palestinian Authority (PA) ended in January, 2009, and he has not called for elections since. January, 2019 will mark the 10th year that Abbas has held the office of President of the PA without a mandate from the people. Worse yet, Abbas’ Fatah party was kicked out of the Gaza Strip in 2007 by Hamas, which won a parliamentary majority in 2006. The autocratic Abbas, in the words of Palestinian civil and human rights activist, Bassem Eid, “represents only his wife and three sons.”
Mahmoud Abbas is responsible for failing to accept the generous peace deal offered to him in 2008 by the dovish Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. In a New York Times article (June 11, 2011), former PM Olmert said that he and Abbas were very close to a peace deal two years earlier. Abbas however hesitated, and Olmert was then beset by legal troubles, as well as the Gaza war between Hamas and Israel, all which caused their talks to end.
In his memoirs published by Israel’s daily Yediot Ahronot, and in an interview with the New York Times, Olmert revealed that the two sides had agreed on key principles: the state of Palestine would have no military; an American-led international security force, not Israeli soldiers, would be stationed on its border with Jordan; Jerusalem would be shared, with the holy sites overseen by a multinational committee; and a limited number of Palestinian refugees would be permitted back into what is now Israel, while the rest would be generously compensated. The two agreed that Israel would keep some land in the West Bank on which settlements had been built, but disagreed on how much. Abbas failed to grab the best possible deal he was offered to make peace and establish a Palestinian state.
Abbas has sought instead to challenge Israel at the UN, and in other international agencies, hoping to create a Palestinian state through the UN, without having to negotiate with Israel. The Times of Israel (April 1, 2014) reported that, “In an apparent breach of understandings with the U.S. and Israel, and with a proposed agreement to extend peace talks awaiting a Palestinian response, PA President Mahmoud Abbas signed an official appeal to join 15 UN and international bodies.”
via Abbas’ Deceit