The Barcelona precedent

It’s only one data point, but the attitude of the Palestinian leadership with regard to the visit of Barcelona football club, does not bode well for progress in peace talks. The Jerusalem Post reports:

Barca visit shows how hard peace process will be

Israeli officials say PA failure to invite Israelis to FC Barcelona’s soccer exhibition in W. Bank, nixing idea for mixed Israel-Palestinian team is not in the spirit of sport, or of trying to get diplomatic process going.

This no way to run a peace train, Israeli government officials suggested Sunday, bewailing the Palestinian Authority’s failure to let Israelis attend the FC Barcelona soccer exhibition in the West Bank town of Dura on Saturday night.

In contrast, the officials said, Israel invited 400 to 500 Palestinians to Bloomfield Stadium in Jaffa on Sunday night to watch the exhibition in Israel.

The officials also said it had been Palestinian Football Association head Jibril Rajoub who nixed the original idea of an exhibition match between Barcelona and a mixed Israeli-Palestinian team.

“Because of the behavior of the Israelis, that targets sport and athletes, our movement is limited,” Rajoub was quoted by Reuters as having said three months ago. “I believe that it’s too early to talk about a joint match because of the discriminatory behavior, even on the playing field, which is being practiced by Israel.”

Not only was this not in the spirit of sport, it was not in the spirit of trying to get the diplomatic process moving, one Israeli official said.

“Despite public proclamations about the desire for peace and reconciliation, the Palestinians refused to entertain the idea of a joint football team, and refused to have Israelis go to the West Bank to watch a match,” the official said. “This just shows the challenges we face now in moving the process forward.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did not allude to any of this when he met the storied soccer team at a reception for the club in Jerusalem on Sunday.

Instead, he said he had three hopes: to see good soccer games, to have peace and security, and to have “1 percent of Barcelona’s fan base” visit Israel.

“That would help our economy and would help peace as well,” he quipped.

The Palestinian leadership have the right to behave in this way, even if it seems somewhat unfriendly at a time when my guess is that a friendly gesture could have secured them much more benefit.

The other subject the article indirectly highlights is the pulling power of Peres. He invited Barcleona, and they came. May the President live to 120, but who will be able to fill his shoes?

Rami Hamdallah’s parting gift

Courtesy of BBC Watch, this set of tweets from Rami Hamdallah, Palestinian PM:


Conflicts? Confusion? Corruption? Whatever can he mean?

As Hadar Sela says in the BBC Watch report:

“In the meantime, the final message of his equally short-lived venture into social media might perhaps give the BBC inspiration for some real investigative reporting which could bring valuable information and insights to BBC audiences.”

Don’t hold your breath. Based on past experience, the closest to investigative reporting is likely to be a feature on potential Palestinian contenders for the next series of Arab Idol.

He’s gone

Yes, he’s gone. As the Times of Israel now reports the latest:

Abbas accepts resignation of Palestinian PM

Rami Hamdallah will leave his post after less than two weeks as prime minister

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas formally accepted on Sunday the resignation of newly-appointed Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, official news agency Wafa reported.

Hamdallah had served only two weeks before he abruptly resigned last week over a conflict of authority. He reportedly met with Abbas on Friday afternoon, and although neither Hamdallah’s nor Abbas’s offices made any statements, a high-level government official said Abbas made intensive efforts to persuade Hamdallah not to resign.

However, Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rdeneh was quoted Sunday by Wafa as saying the resignation was accepted. Hamdallah will remain head of a caretaker government until a replacement is found.

What was that about a week being a long time in politics?

He’s back

Yes, he’s back – for now. As the Times of Israel reports:

Palestinian PM withdraws resignation a day after quitting

Senior PA official says Abbas made intensive efforts to persuade Hamdallah to remain in office

Intensive efforts? I do wonder what that actually means.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on Friday withdrew his resignation, which he tendered to President Mahmoud Abbas just a day earlier, Ma’an News Agency reported.

Hamdallah, who was sworn in to office two weeks ago, reportedly met with Abbas on Friday afternoon. Though neither Hamdallah’s nor Abbas’s offices made any statements, a high-level government official said Abbas made intensive efforts to persuade Hamdallah not to resign.

The Circus of Palestinian Politics delivers continuing entertainment.

Pardon? Leadership? Responsibility? Direction? Maturity? Peace building? Statesmanship? If you are looking for that, you are definitely in the wrong place.

Hello Mr President. Goodbye Mr President.

As seen at the BBC, this didn’t take long:

New Palestinian PM Rami Hamdallah ‘offers resignation’

Rami Hamdallah had not previously had a high-profile role in Palestinian politics

Newly appointed Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah has offered his resignation to President Mahmoud Abbas, government sources say.

It was not immediately clear whether Mr Abbas had accepted the resignation, nor the reason behind it.

Mr Hamdallah, a British-educated academic and political independent, was sworn in on 6 June.

He replaced Salam Fayyad who stepped down in April after a long-running dispute with President Abbas.

A BBC correspondent says there are said to have been disagreements over his mandate.

Mr Hamdallah was given two deputies, one for political affairs and one for economic affairs, and Mr Hamdallah’s office said he submitted his resignation because of a “conflict over authority”, reports say.

Mr Hamdallah’s cabinet had only met for the first time last week. It consisted mainly of members of the Fatah party, one of the two main Palestinian political factions, led by Mr Abbas.

The other main faction, Hamas, described the appointment of Mr Hamdallah as “illegal” because it was not a unity government formed as a result of a reconciliation agreement.

When he was appointed, Mr Hamdallah stated his administration would rule only for “a transitional period” until a unity government was formed.

There has been a deep rift between the two main Palestinian factions since 2007, when Hamas set up a rival government in Gaza after ousting Fatah in clashes.

The two factions are currently engaged in drawn-out reconciliation talks. Last month, officials on both sides announced plans to form a unity government by August that would then prepare for new elections.

Before his appointment as PM, Mr Hamdallah had been known for his 15-year tenure as head of the al-Najah National University, and did not have a high profile as a politician.

Fatah. Hamas. Made for one another, except they do not see it that way. What a bloody mess. There may be perfectly good reasons for the man to offer his resignation, but for it to happen so quickly – is it a world record – does not inspire confidence. What could have happened in that short time that he did not know about before? Surely knowing your mandate in fine detail would seem a basic prerequisite. Oh dear.

I pity the Palestinian people for the state (ahem) of their leadership. (Leaderships?) They are a woeful, hateful, useless crew.

Maybe on reflection they are not completely useless. They do serve to demonstrate the chances of success of any Palestinian state with any of them in charge. When Naftali Bennett says the two state solution is dead and buried, the Circus of Palestinian Politics does nothing to persuade me he’s wrong. Who can save the day?