Same Old Sad Story

Jewish Light Editorial

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas continues to display his hypocrisy as evidenced by his absurd speech to the United Nations General Assembly’s summit of heads of state and government last week.

In his rambling address, Abbas suggested that Palestinians should no longer be bound by the Oslo Accords that set forth parameters for a prospective two-state solution. Referring to Israel, Abbas said, “They leave us no choice but to insist that we will not remain the only ones committed to the implementation of these agreements, while Israel continuously violates them.”

Abbas continued his threat to dissolve the Palestinian Authority in order to force Israel to take full responsibility for the West Bank and thus label Israel as an occupying power. And his Palestinian Authority has indicated its intended cessation of security cooperation with Israel, suggesting the potential for enhanced terror activity.

Abbas is believed to be in desperate need of attention, as recent events have eclipsed global concern over the plight of the Palestinians. The continued incursions by ISIS, the West’s agreement with Iran, the intervention of Russia into Syria, the humanitarian crisis of Syrian migration, and the Taliban assertions in Afghanistan, are among the many issues pushing Abbas and company to the back pages.

So it seems not that surprising that Abbas appears, according to a New York Times article Monday by Jodi Rudoren and Isabel Kershner, to be “inciting violence and giving tacit support to terrorism, not least by failing to promptly condemn the gun and knife attacks that have claimed the lives of four Israeli in the West Bank and the Old City of Jerusalem over the last few days.” The same Times piece took Abbas to task for giving up on peace with his U.N. speech.

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Israelis are concerned that Abbas, now in the 10th year of a four-year elected term and in perilously weak political position, might welcome the current escalation of Palestinian violence and a harsh Israeli crackdown as the beginning of a third intifada. The first two versions gained worldwide attention to the Palestinian cause, and Abbas might be attempting a reprise of that scenario to remain before the cameras and the world.

Ironically, the Abbas speech was delivered just after the Palestinian Authority gained a major symbolic victory in its quest to be admitted to the United Nations. The General Assembly, by an overwhelming vote, approved allowing the flags of both Palestine and the Vatican (Holy See) to be raised among the 193 members of the world body.  Both the Holy See and Palestine are officially recognized as “non-member observer states” by the General Assembly.  

But Abbas has only ever been able to recognize success in the condemnation of Israel. When the security barrier between Israel and West Bank dramatically reduced terror-related violence, it was not a basis for celebration. Nor was it when economic development advances helped positively transition troubled hotspots in the West Bank. The recognition by the U.N. has been another shunned opportunity by Abbas.

If Abbas cannot attack Israel at least rhetorically, it’s as though he is without strategic or tactical direction. His constant lashing out at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wears thin, as Abbas sees political success only in blame and never in accomplishment.

As we’ve said many times in this space, one is not required to see Netanyahu as a visionary leader to heap condemnation at Abbas’ feet. Both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are almost wholly incapable of finding bridges for peace, while finding rhetorical means to expand the chasm as wide as possible.

Right now, it’s almost as if Abbas and his compatriots are trying to make noise to offset the louder noise being created by other nearby circumstances. With nations uniting against ISIS, perhaps he is fearful that Palestinians will be asked to get on board or be left behind. And even within the Palestinian world, the Hamas link with Iran has been stronger than his, so if Iran becomes a more emboldened player, it may be Abbas, not Hamas, who ends up on the outside looking in.

Abbas doesn’t really understand how to move forward in a constructive way, watching his mentor Yassir Arafat take Israel to the edge in negotiations, only to pull back before committing to real peace. If that’s his role model, he’s obviously perfected the stance to a “T.” Recent events just confirm what we already knew.