Some have viewed PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s video address to the UN General Assembly last Friday as a signal that he is serious about making a move toward peace with Israel. He called on the UN “to convene an international conference with full authority and with the participation of all concerned parties, early next year to engage in a genuine peace process, based on international law…with the participation of all concerned parties.”
Till now, of course, he has for years refused to sit down with Israel over its settlement policy and cut the U.S. out of any peace effort over President Trump’s peace deal, which is seen as favoring Israel.
More recently, he ended any connections with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain for their having entered into the Abraham Accords normalizing relations with Israel without Palestinian approval – “a poisoned dagger” is how he described the accords. However, while he again slammed the UAE and Bahrain in his UN speech, he now referred to the accords only as a “violation of the principles of a just and lasting solution under international law.”
But no one should bite. His call for an international conference reveals that he has not abandoned his perennial, if unrealistic, efforts to avoid resolving issues directly with Israel. He still seeks to create international pressure to force a deal on Israel. If there were any doubt about his intentions, careful attention should be paid to his description of his proposed conference:
The conference should have full authority to launch a genuine peace process based on international law. It should end the occupation and grant the Palestinian people their freedom and independence in their own state along the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital and settle final-status issues, notably the refugee question.
So what else is new? He and his illustrious predecessor Yassir Arafat never quite accepted that Israel was never going to ignore the consequences of its military victories in the several wars of politicide the Arab world mounted against the Jewish state – unless it was forced to. And even now Abbas acts as if those wars hadn’t materially changed the geopolitical calculus.
But Trump should have by now convinced everyone that the overwhelming Israeli leverage is here to stay because it is Biblically, historically, and militarily based, crucial to U.S. interests in the Middle East, and now firmly rooted in the geopolitical dynamic in the area.
One wonders what part of what has been happening in the Middle East has escaped Abbas such that he has any remaining leverage. Has he missed the massive U.S. support for the Israeli position, or the steady growth of cooperation between Israel and a number of Arab Gulf states, who seem not too upset about the Israel-Palestinian conflict lingering? Or that there is a shared concern for the Iranian threat to the region? Or that the Abraham Accords are expected to be joined by a number of other countries?
The Palestinian ship has sailed, and Abbas should not be encouraged to think otherwise.