Mahmoud Abbas delivered an address at the UN General Assembly yesterday.
It was the address that he had promised would include a “bombshell” at the end.
Bombshell? Presumably, that he was walking away from the Oslo Accords of 1993 and following.
The NY Times headline for the article reporting on this event declared, “Mahmoud Abbas, at the UN, says Palestinians are no longer bound by Oslo Accords.”
Sounds pretty definitive, but the article itself points out that “he couched the language in what Mr. Gold [Dore Gold, Director General of the Foreign Ministry] described as ‘very tortured language,’ contingent on continued Israeli violations of the agreement. This makes the practical effects of Mr. Abbas’s declaration unclear.” (Emphasis added)
And this from the NY Times.
Khaled Abu Toameh, writing in the JPost, said this (emphasis added):
”…it turns out that the bombshell is not as serious as many thought. It’s a bombshell that makes much noise and little damage.
”Abbas did not announce his resignation or the dismantlement of the Palestinian Authority, as many predicted he would do. Such a move would have been considered a real bombshell.
”Instead, he repeated his old threat to abandon signed accords with Israel ‘as long as Israel refuses to commit to the agreements with us.’
”His assertion that the Palestinians ‘cannot continue to be bound by these agreements’ is perhaps the only dramatic statement he made in his speech. But again, this should be seen as nothing but another threat, not the bombshell that Abbas promised a few weeks ago.
”However, it doesn’t seem to be the kind of bombshell that causes real damage. It’s a bombshell that consists of a threat that has previously been made by Abbas and other senior Palestinian officials. This is another conditional threat by Abbas and not a straightforward announcement abrogating the Oslo Accords and other agreements with Israel.
”In his speech, Abbas did not abandon the peace process with Israel, as some have mistakenly argued.
”He did not dissolve the Palestinian Authority and ‘return the keys’ to Israel. He did not even go as far as suspending security coordination with Israel – without which the Palestinian Authority would not be able to survive in the West Bank.”
According to an analysis in The Times of Israel, Abbas’s threats regarding breaking off with Israel were largely intended for internal consumption, because Abbas has lost his support among the people – with a poll showing that 2/3 want him to resign. They were not intended, says this analysis, to frighten Israel.
Other reports indicate that Abbas would have put specifics in his address, but was pressured by the US not to do so.
Whatever the case, Abbas’s address was very vile – consistent with his mode of operating. He began with a litany of Israel’s “sins” on the Temple Mount:
“I come before you today from Palestine, compelled to sound the alarm about the grave dangers of what is happening in Jerusalem, where extremist Israeli groups are committing repeated, systematic incursions upon Al-Aqsa Mosque, aimed at imposing a new reality and dividing Al- Haram Al-Sharif temporally, allowing extremists, under the protection of Israeli occupying forces and accompanying ministers and Knesset members, to enter the Mosque at certain times, while preventing Muslim worshipers from accessing and entering the Mosque at those times and freely exercising their religious rights.
“This is the scheme that the Israeli government is pursuing, in direct violation of the status quo since before 1967 and thereafter. By doing so, the occupying power is committing a grave mistake, because we will not accept this, and the Palestinian people will not allow the implementation of this illegal scheme, which is aggravating the sensitivities of Palestinians and Muslims everywhere.
“I call on the Israeli government, before it is too late, to cease its use of brutal force to impose its plans to undermine the Islamic and Christian sanctuaries in Jerusalem, particularly its actions at Al-Aqsa Mosque, for such actions will convert the conflict from a political to religious one, creating an explosive in Jerusalem and in the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory.”
Here is the lie that he and his cohorts have been promoting for some many weeks now. The shameless lie, which must be understood as just that.
The response from the Prime Minister’s Office on this issue:
“Abu Mazen’s [Mahmoud Abbas’s] speech was deceitful and encourages incitement and lawlessness in the Middle East.
“In contrast to the Palestinians, Israel is strictly maintaining the status quo on the Temple Mount and is committed to continuing to do so in accordance with the agreements between us and the Jordanians and the Wakf.”
More lies, outrageous enough to take the breath away (Emphasis added):
“We do not respond to the Israeli occupation’s hatred and brutality with the same. Instead, we are working on spreading the culture of peace and coexistence between our people and in our region, and we are anxious to realize it and to witness the day when all of the people in our region will enjoy peace, security, stability and prosperity.
“…Palestine is a country of holiness and peace…This is Palestine that is still looking for peace, and its people want to live in their homeland in safety, security, harmony, stability and good neighborliness with all peoples and countries of the region. This is attested to by their cultural, humanitarian and spiritual contributions to humanity from the start.”
As all of my readers are aware, we are enduring a serious problem with Arab violence – throwing of rocks, firebombs and more – that is abetted and encouraged and incited by the PA. It is difficult to address Abbas’s words with any seriousness, when he takes the situation that pertains and turns it upside down with his words.
But no need to even try to take him seriously. When reading about the “cultural, humanitarian and spiritual contributions to humanity from the start,” it is best to resort to a good belly laugh. There is NO contribution to humanity that the PLO or the PA has made. Not a one.
What does Abbas want? Most certainly he seeks the intervention of the international community – intervention sufficient to squeeze Israel badly, and to somehow (?) render his “Palestinian state” a reality without the need for negotiations. To wit:
“Our people have placed their hopes on the countries of this organization to help them to gain their freedom, independence and sovereignty, so that their wish and right to their own state, like all other peoples of the Earth, can be achieved…”
Here I must counter a significant historical and legal distortion. Abbas stated:
“While Palestine was partitioned into two states – according to which Israel was established 67 years ago- the second part of that resolution still awaits implementation. Palestine, which is an observer state in the United Nations, deserves full recognition and full membership.”
No, and no again!
Palestine was NOT partitioned into two states. When Britain, in 1947, expressed intention of relinquishing its Mandatory power in Palestine and turning it back to the UN, the General Assembly passed a resolution – Resolution 181 – regarding the division of Palestine. This was seen as a possible way to solve problems that the British had found it difficult if not impossible to cope with.
A General Assembly resolution, however, is only a RECOMMENDATION. It carries no weight in international law. (Only certain categories of Security Council resolutions establish international law.) And so, Palestine was not divided. The General Assembly had merely said, “We suggest this is the way to go.”
At the time the resolution was passed, what would have been necessary for it to be established in international law would have been the acceptance by both parties of this suggested plan. Customary international law says that a border is established if the entities on both sides of that border recognize it. But that is not what happened. The Jews accepted this plan, and the Arabs rejected it. With that, Resolution 181 was a dead letter, without import.
ALL of Palestine (minus Jordan), according to the Mandate for Palestine, which was still in force, was meant to be the Homeland of the Jewish People. This was an article of international law. The Jews, in accepting the recommendation for partition, were, in essence, agreeing to relinquish a portion of their allocated homeland. But as the Arabs rejected their portion, the terms of the Mandate remained in force. In terms of international law, nothing had changed.
Credit: Jewish Agency
Abbas cannot go back in time. He cannot now claim the right to a state that the Arabs rejected almost 70 years ago. Sorry, but it does not work that way. And yet Abbas and his cohorts keep trying.
Do not buy this, please.
What is more. Resolution 181 did not establish the modern State of Israel: The Declaration of Independence established the State on May 14, 1948 – with the withdrawal of Britain.
The state was established roughly on the area that Resolution 181 had recommended for a Jewish state (with some additional area secured in the course of the War of Independence, which followed immediately). There were several reasons for this, but it was certainly the case that the Jews could not have secured all of Palestine at that point.
This does not mean Israel had relinquished all claims to the remainder of Palestine for the future. The part on which Israel was not founded in 1948 became unclaimed Mandate land.
When Israel moved into Judea and Samaria (unclaimed Mandate land) in 1967, it was not as an occupier. By legal definition, there is no occupation.
Neither Abbas nor any successor will ever enter into sincere negotiations with Israel for a “two-state solution.” This is clear from the historical record – for the Palestinian Arabs have been offered a state, more than once, and each time rejected it.
They will not sign off on negotiations because it means end of conflict and recognition of Israel as the Jewish state. And they won’t have this. What they want is to maneuver until we are gone, utilizing negotiations if and when it suits them to weaken Israel.
It is possible that international pressure will push a severely reluctant Abbas back to the table (the Quartet is already making noises in this regard). But now Abbas is saying:
“It is no longer useful to waste time in negotiations for the sake of negotiations; what is required is to mobilize international efforts to oversee an end to the occupation in line with the resolutions of international legitimacy.”
And so, we see where this going. It will not be an easy time for Israel, and we must be strong.
Tomorrow night is Shabbat, and then on Sunday night here in Israel, we have the final day of this holiday season – Simchat Torah, in which we rejoice in the Torah. Outside of Israel, the holiday continues one additional day.
The holiday takes precedence for me, and so I do not expect to post again until Monday night or Tuesday at the earliest.
At that time there will be a great deal more to address, presumably including the talk Prime Minister Netanyahu is delivering to the UN.
Before closing here, however, I want to circle back to the issue of Abbas walking away from the Oslo Accords. Perhaps more than many realize, it would be a very difficult thing for Abbas to do. This is not only because the Palestinian Authority itself was established by the Accords. In the 20 plus years since they were signed, there are ways in which the PA has become enmeshed with Israel.
Most significantly, there is security cooperation. Without the IDF, the PA security forces would last perhaps a week before being overthrown by Hamas or worse. Abbas may be loath to admit it, but his very life might depend on the IDF.
In addition, Oslo has committed Israel to providing certain services – from duty collection on imports to provision of electricity (for which, in theory, the PA is supposed to pay, but does not). Difficult to imagine at this point precisely how the Palestinian Arabs would manage without this.
Of course, what Abbas imagines is that there would be a sovereign Palestinian state – established by the international community – to take the place of the PA. But neither is this nearly as easy as Abbas would have it. What Abbas speaks about is a state that goes to the pre-67 line and includes Jerusalem. But a new state cannot be defined legally as incorporating area that its government does not control. (THIS, my friends, is one reason why the fight over the Temple Mount is so very critical.)
Then, there is loose talk about Abbas “giving back the keys” to Israel – telling Israel that we are responsible for everything and he’s out of it. I do not see this happening at this point, as it would set the PLO back, surrendering control to (an admittedly very reluctant) Israel.
It is said that there is an old Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.” Our times are certainly “interesting.” But we must find the blessings within it. They do exist and these, too, I hope to write about.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.