The wall behind the speakers’ podium at the United Nations General Assembly hall is greenish – an unusual color in halls of this kind. It’s quite possible that it is green with shame. The amount of lies said in front of this wall by heads of state, each in their own language, is beyond chutzpa, is stranger than fiction.
The speakers have lied, and so have the members of the delegations in the hall, who welcomed every lie with a round of applause.
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ speech was no exception. Among other things, he accused Israel of waging a genocide war in Gaza. He knew it was a lie, and yet he said it, hoping that the lie would hold. Genocide is a term which must not be uttered recklessly. On the diplomatic and legal level, it’s similar to a declaration of war.
In some sense, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is right: Abbas is not a partner. He has not been a partner since last February, when he made it clear to the American peace team that he has given up on the chance to reach an agreement through negotiations.
He has two options left. The first is to allow terror to resume, which he has rejected out of hand. The second is to launch a diplomatic attack on Israel, through the UN institutions, much to the Americans’ resentment. That’s what he is doing now.
His move has three goals: The first is to try to impose an agreement on the Israeli government which it is not interested in through international sanctions; the second, assuming that the first one fails, is to at least punish Israel by weakening it in the international arena; the third is to prove to the Palestinian street that Hamas is not the only one fighting Israel – Abbas is fighting Israel too, in his own way. This need grew stronger in light to the fighting ability demonstrated by Hamas throughout the Gaza operation.
He plans to ask the UN Security Council to set a binding date for an agreement and determine its outcome in advance – a Palestinian state within the 1967 lines with Jerusalem as its capital. If the US vetoes the resolution, he will return to the General Assembly with the same proposal. It won’t be binding, but it will stimulate the calls for a boycott against Israel in Western Europe.
The next stage will be the International Criminal Court in The Hague. At the time, Abbas promised he wouldn’t go there, but after launching this campaign he will find it difficult to stop. That’s what happens to a person who accuses his fellowman of genocide.
Abbas is a pleasant man in person, but he is a bitter rival to the policy of the current Israeli government’s policy – and in fact, to the policies of most Israeli governments since 1967. He angers people in the West Bank and Gaza, but is considered a hero in the world. He can take credit for the calm in the West Bank during Operations Brother’s Keeper and Protective Edge. It was his investment, and he will receive something in return for it.
The West’s fear of the new Islamic terror, from groups like ISIS or Jabhat al-Nusra and others, is not necessarily working in Israel’s favor. It is precisely when a Western-Arab coalition takes shape against new enemies, that there is a growing need to balance the picture by helping a pan-Arab, pan-Muslim issue. Where will the balance be made? On the Israeli-Palestinian front. Similar activity was recorded on the eve of the American invasion of Iraq in 2003.
The Prime Minister’s Office issued a condemnation in response to Abbas’ speech. Abbas is slandering, lying, inciting. The assumption was that this is a propaganda war: Abbas will say that we are a racist and apartheid state, which is committing genocide, and that will be it. I’m afraid they are wrong, and they are not the only ones. The change taking place before our eyes is much more significant.
The thing called the peace process, or the Oslo process, or peace negotiations, is off the table. The gap between the parties is too big; the internal forces opposing concessions are too strong. What we are left with is a battlefield between an Israeli government which will forever stick to the status quo and a desperate Palestinian Authority which is fighting it, with the world’s growing support. It’s a recipe for an explosion.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Bar-Ilan speech is no longer valid. When he speaks about a two-state solution at the UN on Monday, no one – apart from the Israeli delegation members – will believe him. I doubt they will believe him either.
Netanyahu needed Abbas – if not as a real partner, then as a fig leaf. That fig leaf has flown away. There is no one to hide the bluff.