There may been an 18-month truce announced this weekend between Israel and Hamas. No one's really coming out a winner. But the big loser may be the Palestinian authority's president, Mahmood Abbas. The World's Quil Lawrence reports from the West Bank.
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MARCO WERMAN: There's still no end in sight to the wrangling over who will form the next government in Israel, but soon Israelis may be hearing some interesting news from Cairo, Egypt. That's where talks are taking place to secure a new ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas. An agreement could be reached as early as this weekend. It's hard to say who won the recent war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, but it's pretty clear the conflict added to the troubles of Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas. The World's Quil Lawrence reports from the West Bank.
QUIL LAWRENCE: The 12th graders at the Al Bira girls school came to the schoolyard this week knowing that most of their teachers would not be showing up. Their teachers are on strike because their salaries haven't been paid for two weeks. The Palestinian Authority, or PA, has announced a massive diversion of money toward Gaza reconstruction. That means there's none left for government employees â€“ from police to teachers. Maysa Jarar, an English teacher, decided to come to work anyway.
MAYSA JARAR: Because I have my own kids who are at school also. So when I saw my students, I think about my children, that they have lost a day of their education, which is our only weapon today. So I decided to come to school and work for free.
LAWRENCE: Jarar understands that this is something of a gesture to Gaza by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
JARAR: He's in a very difficult situation because he's between two sides â€“ his diplomatic and politician situation in the world, especially the Western world, and the pressure from the people here and Gaza to support them and be on their side.
LAWRENCE: But sympathy for Abbas may put Jarar in the minority these days. When the war in Gaza began, Abbas seemed to almost support Israel as a way to punish Hamas, who violently ousted the PA from Gaza in 2007. As the civilian death toll mounted, Abbas still lacked a strong message, and some PA politicians clearly hoped a weakened Hamas might be forced back under the PA's control. Now, Abbas's gestures to Gaza are viewed cynically, even by some supporters. Akram Rajub is head of the PA security services in Ramallah. He says withholding salaries from his men is affecting the entire West Bank economy. The hold is also affecting government projects and services. Rajub says he blames the conflict between Hamas and the PA. â€œThe division has broken the back of the Palestinians,â€ he says. He might as well be saying, â€œIt's broken Abbas,â€ who is clinging to a peace process with the Israelis that most Palestinians say has brought them nothing. The ambiguous reaction to last month's Gaza war drained Abbas of his remaining political capital,â€ says Hani Al-Masri, a leading political commentator in Ramallah.
HANI AL-MASRI: To a great extent, Abbas has become irrelevant after he behaved in an unacceptable manner during the Gaza war. He was much stronger before the war. For the first time, Hamas is stronger in the polls.
LAWRENCE: If a deal between Israel and Hamas is forged in the coming days, it's likely to be painted by Hamas as a victory. But it will be hard for Mahmoud Abbas to claim any role in that, and even harder for him to pull Hamas back under the PA's control. With a year left in his term, many Palestinians say they already consider Abbas a lame duck. For The World, this is Quil Lawrence, Ramallah, the West Bank.