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Is Mansour Abbas just naïve, too good to be true or a charlatan?

Ra'am party head MK Mansour Abbas leads a faction meeting, at the Knesset in Jerusalem, October 16, 2023. (Photo: Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

You’ve got to admire the chutzpah it takes for an Arab leader to call on Palestinians to lay down their arms, and that is exactly what Knesset Member Mansour Abbas suggested just a few days ago. 

Abbas, leader of the Arab Ra’am party who was the first Arab leader to become a part of the Israeli governing coalition, back in 2021, joining Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid, said, “I think the armed Palestinian factions need to stop using weapons and turn to a diplomatic project with the Palestinian Authority to strengthen the chances of a Palestinian state and announce an inclusive and permanent ceasefire to bring about peace and an end to this conflict.”

Predictably, his goodwill comment drew much ire from Palestinians who clearly don’t see eye to eye with him but rather insisted that once “a Palestinian state is established, it will be the one to hold the weapons.”

The irony is that had Abbas’ position been adopted by Palestinians, they likely would have had a state years ago. But, does Abbas really think that statehood is the endgame for the people who choose terrorists to be their governing rulers? Who is Mansour Abbas, and why does he seem to speak with tones of naivety and diplomacy – a complete departure from his own countrymen? 

Strongly condemning Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel, he publicly said, “Any action that is taken against innocent people – against women, children, elderly – is inhumane and it goes against the values of Islam as well. We categorically condemn this. This cannot be discussed or cannot be justified because it goes against all human values and religious values as well.”

But after getting enough pushback from his own people, Abbas began his backpedaling by way of offering a clarification statement “in an apparent effort to soften” his prior statement, reasoning that “the Palestinian state that will arise will negate the arming of Palestinian factions.” 

Nevertheless, Mansour Abbas comes off as a much more reasonable, thoughtful person, with whom the Israeli government can deal on a rational and sensible level, in contrast to a terrorist government that has one goal in mind – the eradication of the Jewish people.

However, not everyone is buying into the cooler head of Mansour Abbas. “Energy Minister Israel Katz said: ‘Abbas thinks we’re stupid and that he’ll trick us with smooth but empty words. In the morning, he talks about disarming the factions and in the evening, he explains that actually it’s only after a Palestinian state is established.’” Katz was not alone in his skepticism. Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, as well as Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and Legislation Committee Chairman Simcha Rothman, all accused Abbas of supporting the enemy and not genuinely expressing goodwill.

In opposition to those sentiments, Labor party leader, Merav Michaeli believes that “his statements demonstrate a committed and real Jewish-Arab partnership which will bring security for both Palestinians and all Israel’s citizens.”

So, which is it? Is he a good actor, posing as a peacemaker for the sake of keeping the lost cause of a Palestinian state alive? Is he a charlatan who is truly aligned with the enemy, or is he a serious leader who believes in diplomacy as the way to peaceful coexistence?

If he is, indeed, trying to advance a two-state solution, he might be better off selling freezers to Eskimos, at this point, because that ship seems to have sailed quite a while ago, with Oct. 7 being the final nail in the coffin. 

If Israelis ever thought that there was a viable possibility of two states for two people, living peaceably, side by side together, they don’t anymore. Oct. 7 taught them that 'two states' is not on the menu, for them, given Hamas’ voracious appetite for dead Jews. It was the mother of all lessons for Israelis to have to internalize, that the enemy’s goal is to forcibly take over the land of Israel – from the river to the sea, with nothing else being an option for them. 

Sadly, a number of left-wing kibbutz members, who championed the cause of a Palestinian state and fought tirelessly for the rights of those they believed were oppressed, are no longer with us. They will never have the chance to express just how duped they were in thinking that their generous, heartfelt efforts would be met with appreciation and admiration, because their killers didn’t stop to ask if they were on their side.

So, why is Abbas still fantasizing about the establishment of a Palestinian state in light of the events of the past two months? That, perhaps, is the most curious question of all! It must mean that he still retains a hopeful optimism that there are good, honest and peaceable Palestinians who, like him, want a decent chance at a good life…or he has convinced himself that despite the facts on the ground, which negate the establishment of a Palestinian state existing side by side with Israel, will continue to be his dying wish cause, which he will never abandon, no matter how long it takes.

Either way, one thing is for sure. There are no other Arab leaders who are speaking like him – not abroad, not in Israel, not anywhere. We can only hope that his words are a genuine reflection of a new type of Arab leader who is willing to reject violence in favor of peace, goodwill and diplomacy!

If he is all those things, though, he will have a tough road ahead, because the values he is espousing are not shared by any others who represent Palestinians. They, instead, see his beliefs as an obstacle to their goal of a one-state solution – that being a Palestinian replacement of the Jewish homeland. To that end, they will fight him bitterly, with the intent of forever silencing him. We know how that’s done.

So, let’s hope that Mansour Abbas is the genuine article and not, as Katz intimated – just a charmer, because the stakes are too high for his survival, not to mention our own as well!  


A former Jerusalem elementary and middle-school principal and the granddaughter of European Jews who arrived in the US before the Holocaust. Making Aliyah in 1993, she is retired and now lives in the center of the country with her husband.

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