News / Middle East

Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbasi
Scott Stearns
August 21, 2014 9:20 PM
The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with Abbas.

Hamas says there will be no let-up to rocket fire until Israel agrees to lift its blockade of Gaza, which is one of the sticking points in Egyptian mediation.

Meeting with Palestinian negotiators to those talks, Abbas vowed to stay with the Egyptian initiative despite Hamas' mistrust of the new government in Cairo. As it is Hamas, not Abbas, who can call off the attacks, U.S. officials say the Palestinian leader risks being overshadowed here.

"Well, we’re having a number of conversations with them, as are our other partners who have strong partnerships with the Palestinian Authority," said State Department Deputy Spokeswoman Marie Harf. "So we’re having those conversations. But at the end of the day, we need Hamas to make some decisions."

American University professor Guy Ziv says the Obama administration wants to keep Abbas "relevant" because they will need him in any lasting solution with Israel.

"It's ultimately a good idea to have a unified government because the leader of the Palestinian Authority - in this case Mahmoud Abbas - is going to have to represent all of Palestinians, not just his own faction, when a peace treaty is ultimately signed...if a peace treaty is ultimately reached," Ziv said.

A two-state solution to the long conflict that has failed, in part, because of Israel's hard line with President Abbas, says former U.S. ambassador Adam Ereli.

"In fairness to Abbas and that faction of the Palestinian body politic that is moderate and reasonable, look, the Israelis don't give them much to work with," he said.

Ereli says Abbas was weakened even before the latest fighting in Gaza.

"The Israelis, in my view, have done everything to undermine Abbas. They've reneged on prisoners. They've expanded settlements. And every time Abbas says 'well, I'm talking to the Israelis and maybe we'll get somewhere', he undermines his credibility with his own people because the Israelis make him look powerless to do anything to constrain them," he said.

The Israeli military campaign in Gaza further undercuts Abbas because it is an opening for Iran, says U.S. Institute of Peace analyst Steve Heydemann.

"It now seems as if Iran, at least, is hoping to use this crisis as a way to reinsert itself into the Palestine equation through a renewed relationship with Hamas," he said.

Abbas continues to consult with regional leaders who back the Palestinian Authority, including Jordanian King Abdullah. But U.S. officials say Hamas supporters Turkey and Qatar are less interested in the success of the Palestinian leader and the Egyptian mediation he is backing.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: meanbill from: USA
August 21, 2014 11:18 PM
Abbas has been bought and sold by the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, and is a stooge for Israel and the US, by not doing anything for the Palestinians, put taking the money from the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia to keep the status quo, and keeping the blockade in place, and keep the Israel apartheid occupation as is, and keep things quite for his Israeli masters....

by: Ocelan Gul from: Turkey
August 21, 2014 11:00 PM
VOA, let me tell you truth. if Israel remove protective services from PLO, they will be slaughtered within a day. all of them. it is Israel that keeps these scumbags alive. these thieves. these rapists. within a day Hamas will slaughter all of PLO.

by: TK from: Minneapolis
August 21, 2014 8:40 PM
There is almost no chance for a two-state solution anymore. The Israelis have colonized so much of the West Bank that there is
no room for a viable Palestinian state.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs