Yossi Alpher provides some insight into why the Sharon-Abbas summit did not go well:
Sharon's anger [at Abbas] was understandable . . . . The summit was ushered in by new and bloody acts of Palestinian terrorism. Just a day earlier, a woman had been caught at the Erez crossing, laden with explosives that she intended to detonate in an Israeli hospital; she had been sent by a faction of the al-Aqsa Brigades, itself a faction of Fateh, Abbas' movement. During the month before her appearance, Israel had demanded, to no avail, that Palestinian security forces apprehend her dispatcher. There could be no clearer statement of Abbas' failure thus far to deal with terrorism.
Of course Abbas is actually a little more effective when the terrorism comes closer to home. The Jerusalem Post reports that:
The Palestinian Security forces arrested 10 Fatah gunmen over the weekend on suspicion of participating in an armed attack on a PA police station in Jenin. One policeman was killed when scores of Fatah gunmen launched an attack on their station on Thursday night, using automatic rifles and pistols. . . .
Following the attack, about 100 PA policemen clashed with gunmen in various parts of the city. . . . On Friday morning, the policemen surrounded several houses in the city's northern neighborhood where some of the gunmen were hiding. After a brief exchange of gunfire between the two sides, 10 gunmen surrendered to the police forces.
Thursday night attack, Friday morning arrests. All it took was for 100 PA policeman to leave their remaining 49,900 compatriots behind as backup and go out and make the arrests.
Efraim Inbar, professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University and the director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, writes that the Abbas-Sharon meeting was no different than numerous previous summits:
Since the beginning of the Oslo process in 1993 many similar summits have been held, with identical dynamics. Again and again, exasperated Israelis have demanded that the Palestinians meet their obligations, particularly in combating terror, in order to be able to proceed with the peace process. The Palestinians, in turn, have told their interlocutors that the [PA] was too weak to confront Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The Palestinians have always demanded Israeli concessions to be able to show the people that the PA can deliver, thereby gaining strength to put their house in order. . .
Over the years, the Palestinians have perfected the nebech (weakling) strategy. In a world of power politics, Palestinian self-declared weakness elicited during the last decade remarkable results: Israeli territorial concessions and generous humanitarian assistance, tremendous international sympathy, many billions of dollars in foreign assistance to the PA, as well as a flow of NGO money to the Palestinian-ruled territories. In addition, most of the western world was willing to turn a blind eye to the emergence of an incredibly corrupt, authoritarian and inept Palestinian regime. . . .
The PA had a chance to change its course of action when Arafat died and Abbas became his successor. But the nebech strategy was not abandoned.
Barry Rubin writes that the “current situation of Israel and Israeli-Palestinian negotiations can only be described as bizarre.”
Mahmoud Abbas's strategy seeks to reconcile radical rivals rather than fulfill commitments or make peace with Israel. These forces include: Abbas's colleagues in Fatah's establishment; the Fatah opposition, including the Aksa Martyrs Brigades gunmen; Hamas and Islamic Jihad. To avoid antagonizing them he has no intention of confiscating terrorists' arms, stopping anti-Israel incitement, burying the goal of eliminating Israel forever or pressing too hard to stop attacks on Israel. Abbas will probably not establish a stable government in the Gaza Strip after Israel's withdrawal. Nor will he crack down on corruption, suppress the gunmen creating anarchy in Palestinian towns, or really gain control over security forces.
Instead, he will explain to the United States that he is too weak to do anything, but that with another $50 million, another 1,000 prisoners, another six months, an airport, a seaport, another White House visit, another . . . anything to avoid using his 50,000 "police."
He is not a “partner.” He is a concession-reception device.