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State-Level of Analysis

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The end of September marked a contentious discourse made by Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority, as he declared the previous score-year long agreements between Palestine and Israel were now void. This speech made before the United Nations General assembly was an attempt to increase Palestinian leverage in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but was instead condemned by many who viewed it as a futile and desperate effort to gain national recognition (Richter, p. 3). The bottomline here seems to be that Abbas made tenuous claims that fail to specify which parts of the Oslo Accord to which he refers or the means for which he plans to curtail Palestinian-Israeli cooperation (Ross, p. 8). When utilizing the state-level of analysis to provide insight to one’s foreign policy analysis, there are two kinds of factors that are examined: governmental and societal. We must also note that leaders and the way in which they lead are significant elements (Neack, p 93). In this specific case however, perhaps the most important factor of the state-level of analysis is the “domestic political process by which winners and losers are determined on any given foreign policy issue” (Neack, p. 112). Hagan’s model concerning different strategies used by political actors during this process also come into play when analyzing this case (Neack, p. 112). When reviewing Abbas’ announcement at the state-level of analysis, it is key to understand that the leader and his/her intentions play a large part in shaping foreign policy. In this particular case, the idea of public opinion is rather significant. It is not unknown that President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority is a rather unpopular political figure: “Mr. Abbas...has seen his popularity plummet over the past year. A recent poll showed two-thirds of Palestinians wanted him to resign” (Gladstone and Rudoren, p. 4). Another article reads “Abbas is also under pressure because his popularity is declining as his career nears its end” (Richter, p. 3). In the wake of growing dissatisfaction and frustration, Abbas may feel pressured to further exhibit his commitment to the Palestinian people. Because of these circumstances, Abbas seems to engage a mobilization strategy, per Hagan’s model. This strategy takes on a greater level of risk, as leaders assert their legitimacy by appealing to nationalism or placing the blame on foreign opponents (Neack, p. 113). Numerous pieces of evidence support this claim. One article reads “Abbas said his government had no reason to abide by the accords in the face of what he called Israel’s repeated violations of their terms” (Richter, p. 3). To promote a sense of nationalism, “Hundreds of Palestinians turned out in major West Bank cities during Abbas’ speech, waving the Palestinian flag and applauding” (Richter, p. 3). Abbas is clearly attributing the failure of the Oslo Accords to Israel, while seemingly promoting a sense of nationalism within his country. Mobilization involves issuing threats and taking action while often utilizing the use of violence. This is supported when one of the articles reads “Two weeks later, Abbas opened his address before the UN General Assembly with the same lies, threats, and incitement” (Glick, p. 24). This refers to Abbas’ willingess to manipulate foreign policy for his own good. The article claims that he has been incentivizing Palestinian terrorist attacks towards Israelis with monetary and social rewards (Glick, p. 24).
However, evidence exists that help support the claim that Abbas is employing the accommodation strategy. This strategy involves the changing of one’s rhetoric to contain opposition and continue to retain political power (Neack, p. 112). One article reads “It was expected that the president would say that he isn’t going to abide by the agreements” (Gladstone and Rudoren, p. 4). This signifies that Abbas did what the public was expecting. However, this may only show that Abbas’ rhetoric is in line with the public, perhaps not his actions. Further evidence of this reads “It is one thing to say ‘we will not be bounded by these agreements’ and another thing actually to stop implementing them” (Ross, p. 8). So in essence, this state-level of analysis of Mahmoud Abbas’ declaration at the UN General shows how the way Abbas deals with domestic pressure effects how foreign policy is shaped. Abbas shows no hesitation in blaming Israel for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict while promoting nationalism in order to legitimize his leadership.

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