Because he knows that he is immune from most censure by the West and from any censure by the vast majority of the 193 member states of the United Nations General Assembly, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, has once again decided to ask the General Assembly to recognize a Palestinian state.
Abbas spurned a personal plea from newly re-elected U.S. President Barack Obama to desist from the UN application, merely four days after Obama’s re-election.
Obama called Abbas. The two men had what was described by an Abbas aide as a long conversation. Obama pleaded with Abbas to return to negotiations with Israel. As he did last year, Abbas rebuffed the American president.
Abbas emphasized on Sunday that he would proceed, probably this month, with the application to the UN. But to abate the sting of a rather public, insensitive brush-off of the electorally reinvigorated Obama, Abbas added new, softer content to his rejection.
“We will turn to the United Nations,” Abbas said, “even though they [the United States] do not want us to do this… We do not want to deny the legitimacy of Israel; only the legitimacy of the settlements” (our emphasis).
But given Abbas’ harsh, scathingly anti-Israel address to the UN in September and his recent about-face regarding his perceived moderation in the demand for the Palestinians’ “right of return” (See According to Reports on page 16) it is hard to accept this statement by Abbas as being sincere.
“Some powers are trying to tell us that the two-state solution doesn’t come from the UN but through negotiations,” Abbas also said. “Negotiations are crucial. But to get UN recognition is also key” (our emphasis).
In this casual, almost throwaway sentence lies the real purpose of Abbas’ strategy. Upgraded UN status lends more weight and added prestige to his quasi-diplomatic manoeuvrings on the international stage. But even more significant, upgraded UN status entitles the Palestinians access to the other UN agencies.
Abbas has his sights set on the International Criminal Court of Justice, which he would use as the next battleground in the propaganda war to delegitimize the Jewish state.
Thus, for Abbas to deny wanting to delegitimize Israel rings quite hollow in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
The Palestinians circulated a draft resolution at the United Nations last week. They seek support from the General Assembly to raise their status to that of a non-member observer state. And they seek support from the Security Council to approve a petition for full UN membership.
A Palestinian state will be established only through negotiations with Israel, Obama told Abbas. But Abbas, to the continued detriment of his people, once again turned a deaf ear to the American president who so desperately wants to help him.