He’s failed to get Israel to stop building settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the negotiations. In fact, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Wednesday morning the acceleration of four new settlement projects in East Jerusalem. Israel also has refused to agree to discuss the borders of a future Palestinian state.
As nationalist songs boomed from loudspeakers Wednesday, members of the Palestinian Authority’s media team enthusiastically handed out posters of Abbas to anybody who’d take them. Several people declined, and in some cases those who accepted passed them on to others. One person hung a poster on a tree branch.
It was clear they were there to celebrate the release of their fellow Palestinians, not the achievements of Abbas. Most of those released are middle-aged men who are unlikely to return to fighting Israel. Meanwhile, more Palestinians are being arrested each day.
The Muqata’s eruption of happiness was a bubble within Ramallah, itself a bubble within the less-prosperous West Bank. Palestinians have more pressing concerns, including the fading hope of achieving independence and the dire shape of the economy in the West Bank, compared with relatively prosperous Ramallah.
Problems harvesting olives due to attacks by Israeli settlers are threatening the livelihoods of about 80,000 Palestinians. On Tuesday, settlers cut down and poisoned more than 600 olive trees in the village of Einabus, near Nablus, in the northern West Bank.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that from January to October last year, Israeli settlers damaged or destroyed more than 7,500 olive trees in the territory.