Khaled Abu Toameh
The Jerusalem Post (Analysis)
February 22, 2011 - 1:00am

In an attempt to bolster its credibility among Palestinians, the Palestinian Authority has decided to take advantage of last Friday’s US veto of a UN Security Council resolution that would have condemned construction in the settlements, and depict President Mahmoud Abbas as a powerful leader who dared to say no to the US president.

Since Friday, Palestinian officials in Ramallah have been briefing reporters about the details of a 50-minute phone conversation between Abbas and US President Barack Obama.

During the phone conversation, hours before the Security Council session, Obama tried to convince Abbas to withdraw the resolution, but to no avail.

This is the PA leadership’s response to those who accuse Abbas of being a US “puppet.”

Palestinians are now being told that Abbas is a hero for standing up to the US president.

To show the world that Abbas has the backing of the Palestinian street, the PA sent hundreds of its supporters, including civil servants and Fatah activists, to the streets to voice their support for their president.

The pro-Abbas demonstrations are also designed to refute allegations made by the Qataribased Al-Jazeera TV network to the effect that the PA president and his negotiators had betrayed their people by offering far-reaching concessions to Israel during the peace talks.

Al-Jazeera’s allegations, which are based on leaked documents detailing the peace talks, have seriously embarrassed the PA leadership and damaged its credibility among many Palestinians.

Abbas is also using the standoff with Obama to correct the “mistake” he made when he agreed, under US pressure, to thwart a motion endorsing the findings of the Goldstone Report into Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip.

On the other hand, the PA leadership has decided to use last week’s veto to whip up anti-American sentiments in the West Bank. Ironically, the anti-US campaign serves the interests of the PA’s rivals in the Gaza Strip and Tehran.

PA officials used unusually harsh words to denounce Obama for instructing the US representative to the UN to kill the anti-settlement resolution.

Many Abbas loyalists have condemned Obama as a “Zionist agent” and a “despicable” man.

In response to claims that Obama threatened to cut off financial aid to the PA if it did not withdraw the resolution, Abbas’s top aides, including Prime Minister Salam Fayyad,have told Palestinians that they would rather give up the money than succumb to American “extortion.”

The PA, which often bans controversial protests in the West Bank, sent thousands of Palestinians to the streets to chant slogans condemning Obama and US policies in the region.

PA officials have also called for a “day of rage” against the US next Friday. Such days of rage against the US, or the “Great Satan,” are often organized by Hamas, Iran and Hezbollah.

The anti-US demonstrations aim to send a message to Obama that he needs to compensate Abbas and the PA leadership for being “biased” in favor of Israel.

The PA leadership is hoping that the anti-US protests will convince the Obama administration of the need to force Israel to make concessions in order to “calm” the Palestinian street before things get out of hand.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017