The Atlantic

The Tragedy of Mahmoud Abbas

As he enters what may be his final years as the leader of Palestine, he appears poised to duplicate the mistakes of Arafat.
Source: REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

Picture a Palestinian leader in the twilight of his reign. Besieged on all sides and challenged by younger upstarts, he lashes out against Israel, his Arab brethren, and the United States. Other Palestinian officials jockey to replace him, convinced he’s past his prime. This is how it ended for Yasser Arafat, whose insistence on waging the second intifada left him isolated in the final years of his rule. It may well be how it ends for Mahmoud Abbas.

Last Sunday, the 82-year-old Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, gave a in front of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Central Council. Over two rambling hours, he anti-Semitic tropes, the Jewish connection to Israel, and everyone from Oliver Cromwell to Napoleon to Winston Churchill for Israel’s President Donald Trump (“may your house fall into ruin”); he has also said he will Vice President Mike Pence’s upcoming visit. He issued indirect of Arab leaders (“no one has the right to interfere with our affairs”) after days of meetings with other Gulf officials (“if [they] really want to help the Palestinian people, support us, and give us a real hand. If not, you can all go to hell”).

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