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Why Abbas Wants to Go Back to the UN in September


Mahmoud Abbas

Photo Credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is now saying that he will resume his efforts in September to achieve, unilaterally, UN recognition of a Palestinian state.

A similar attempt by Abbas in September last year failed after he failed to secure the backing of a majority of members of the UN Security Council.

This time, however, Abbas says he will go to the General Assembly, where the Palestinians enjoy the support of more than 130 countries, with a request to recognize a Palestinian state as a non-member of the UN.

Last week, Abbas even won the backing of the Arab League for his new statehood bid at the UN.

Abbas’s renewed efforts at the UN are an attempt to cover up for his repeated blunders at home.

The Palestinian president is planning to travel to New York at a time when he cannot visit his private house, which has been occupied by Hamas, in the Gaza Strip.

Many Palestinians hold Abbas responsible for the continued power struggle with Hamas — a five-year-old conflict that has resulted in the creation of two separate Palestinian entities, one in the West Bank and the other in the Gaza Strip.

They say that it is Abbas’s refusal to accept the results of the 2006 parliamentary election, which saw Hamas win the majority of the ballots cast, that triggered the ongoing conflict with the Islamist movement and eventually led to the expulsion of the Palestinian Authority from the Gaza Strip.

Persistent attempts by a number of Arab countries to end the rivalry between Abbas’s Fatah faction and Hamas have thus far been unsuccessful. Most Palestinians doubt if the two parties will be able to overcome their differences in the foreseeable future.

The Palestinians will have to live for many years with just two small states. Abbas is therefore going to the UN to ask for recognition of a Palestinian state when his people already have two separate entities, two prime ministers and two governments.

Abbas’s planned visit to New York coincides with a report published last week by the World Bank, disclosing that, because of the Palestinians’ heavy reliance on foreign aid, the Palestinian economy’s recent growth is unsustainable. His renewed efforts to achieve UN recognition also coincide with what Palestinian officials describe as the worst financial crisis facing the government of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

Because of the crisis, the Fayyad government has not been able to pay full salaries to its 150,000 employees.

Instead of devoting his efforts to solving the financial crisis and ending the power struggle with Hamas, Abbas has decided that it would be better if he sparked another confrontation with the US by going back to the UN.

Abbas is hoping to divert attention from his problems at home by embarking on a new “adventure” at the UN. From now until September, he is hoping to keep everyone busy with the new statehood bid at the UN.

Civil servants who are not receiving full salaries will be asked to stay quiet because their president is too busy waging a diplomatic intifada against the US and Israel at the UN.

Hamas will be asked to remain quiet and stop criticizing him because Abbas is “fighting in the international arena” to achieve UN recognition of a Palestinian state.

Abbas’s decision to go back to the UN is also linked to growing criticism of his leadership among Palestinians, including former top Palestinian Authority officials who are accusing him and his sons of involvement in corruption scandals.

Finally, the UN members will have to ask Abbas when he arrives in New York whether he really has a mandate from his people to speak and act on their behalf. Abbas’s term in office expired in January 2009 – a deadline that has not stopped him from continuing to claim that he is the legitimate leader of the Palestinians.

Abbas’s decision to go back to the UN is nothing but a ploy designed to avoid internal problems. It is also a way of trying to extort the Americans and Europeans into channeling more funds into his coffers. Abbas’s threat: Give me more money or I will misbehave and file another request with the UN.

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org

About the Author: Khaled Abu Toameh, an Arab Muslim, is a veteran award-winning journalist who has been covering Palestinian affairs for nearly three decades.


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