Saturday, May 21, 2005

The Curious Negotiation Tactics Of Mahmoud Abbas

From Associated Press:

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday he would demand strong political and financial support in his upcoming talks with President Bush in Washington and did not believe the recent flare-up of violence between militants and Israelis would hurt his case.

Abbas said the renewed violence that threatened an already shaky truce with Israel was calming down after three straight days of clashes. The Palestinian Interior Ministry said the Islamic militant group Hamas had agreed to stop firing rockets at Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip.

But Hamas warned later Saturday it may walk away from the truce because of a dispute with Abbas' ruling Fatah party over municipal elections in Gaza. It marked the first time Hamas linked its adherence to the cease-fire to an internal Palestinian issue.

Abbas' meeting with Bush at the White House on Thursday could give the Palestinian leader a much-needed boost just as he is about to go head-to-head with top rival Hamas in a parliamentary election, and prepares for the difficult task of taking over Gaza after Israel's planned evacuation this summer.

"We are going to demand two basic things: the first is political support and the second is economic support," Abbas said in Ramallah after arriving home from a two-week tour of South America and Asia.

Congress recently approved a $275 million financial aid package for the Palestinians to help bolster their ailing economy and rehabilitate their shattered security forces. Congress is also expected to consider an additional $160 million in aid next year, said Sylvana Foa, spokeswoman for the Agency for International Development.

Speaking to reporters in Egypt hours before arriving home, Abbas dismissed concerns the recent flare-up of violence in Gaza would undermine his talks with Bush.

"The events are minor and they have calmed down," Abbas said at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik after he met Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak . "I think that the situation has begun to come under control in Gaza."

Since Wednesday, three Palestinian militants have been killed in Gaza, and Hamas has fired dozens of homemade rockets and mortar shells at Jewish settlements.

I've been a businessman since I left college at the age of twenty-three. Sales and Marketing have always been my areas of focus. I have been involved in the negotiation of deals totaling in the tens of millions of dollars.

My question about Abbas is, upon what grounds is he making these demands? Negotiation is a process of give and take. One party offers the other something, and the other party counteroffers. At some point, one party may decide that they have offered enough, and they will demand an answer, or a "close" to the deal. They will ask for a yes, or a no.

But, what exactly is Abbas offering here? What is he bringing to the table?

The only thing I can determine he is offering is that he won't ratchet up violence. In other words, he is extorting us. He is "demanding" (his word) "protection money."

Why we would ever entertain such an offer, I can not figure. Why we would expect the Israeli's to deem such an offer credible and worthy, I can not figure either.

If I was working on a deal, and a client layed out such an offer on the table, prior to a meeting scheduled to hammer out the particulars of the deal, I would inform the client that the offer was not worthy, and I would cancel the meeting.

Of course, George Bush will take the meeting. And that tells us that, for whatever reason, he considers the appeasement of the Palestinian Authority to be a priority in his geopolitical policy.

Israel, meanwhile, is apparently playing the role of Czechoslovakia circa 1938.