By Ray Hanania
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas may not have the best communications team to convey his words and deeds, but he has been consistent from day one.
In a speech to the United Nations last week, Abbas urged the UN Security Council to recognize Palestine’s right to statehood. Of course, Abbas knew his request would face the rejectionism of the United States, which has stood in the way of peace for more than seven decades, not just under the mercurial President Donald Trump but under his predecessors too.
Yet, despite that rejection, Abbas reiterated the very foundations of peace that Israel’s government has refused. It is ironic that Abbas is denounced for urging peace based on compromise and two states, while Israel’s government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is facing charges of corruption, has refused to embrace peace.
In fact, Netanyahu and many of Israel’s government officials speak the rhetoric of violence, hatred and conflict, denying the existence of Palestinians, denying the right of Palestinians to statehood and even denying that Israel occupies lands taken during the 1967 conflict.
Abbas could have denounced Israel’s existence and mimicked its damaging rhetoric, but instead he reiterated the same position that Palestinians have offered to Israelis since the late 1980s, when they abandoned the aim of establishing one Democratic State of Palestine and instead agreed to a compromise of two states: Israel and Palestine. The Palestinians have accepted the two-state solution, but Israel has not.
Despite Israel’s rejection of compromise, Abbas told the United Nations last week: “I confirm to you our commitment to maintain our institutions and achievements, which we have realized on the ground in Palestine as well as in the international arena. We are determined to remain committed to the political, diplomatic, legal path, far from violence, and through political negotiations and dialogue, which we have never rejected.”
Abbas emphasized: “We will continue to extend our hands to make peace and will continue to exert efforts to bring an end to the Israeli occupation based on the two-state solution on the 1967 borders and international legitimacy as per the relevant resolutions in order to achieve our national aspirations.”
The reference to the 1967 borders is not the definition of final borders, but those upon which the final borders will be measured. If Israel keeps some of the land it occupied in 1967, then it would be traded-off for land inside Israel taken in 1948. But Israel covets all of the land of historic Palestine and will deny the rights of non-Jews who live there peacefully.
Although Israel’s extremism has been a major obstacle to ending the generations of violence, the biggest hurdle has been the political castration of the Arab world.
The two nations that were instrumental in rejecting the United Nations partition plan in 1947, Egypt and Jordan, each signed peace accords with Israel. Egypt, under its dictator Anwar Al-Sadat, signed a peace accord with Israel’s terrorist Prime Minister Menachem Begin on March 26, 1979. That peace was supposed to open the door to accords with all of the Arab states and ultimately lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state. But Begin, who was responsible for the murder of more than 100 women and children at Deir Yassin in 1948, broke that agreement, blocking all efforts to achieve peace with the Palestinians.
Jordan’s monarch, King Hussein, signed an accord after Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin agreed to peace with Yasser Arafat in October 1993. The Jordanian-Israeli peace accord was signed on Oct. 26, 1994. But Israeli fanatics, disciples of Netanyahu and war criminal Ariel Sharon, assassinated Rabin on Nov. 4, 1995, ending hopes of peace.
Clearly, the real obstacle to peace is not Abbas, who is criticized as a weak leader; it is Netanyahu, a fanatic who survives only because he panders to the extremist hatred that is growing inside Israel. But the Arab world has not helped. Instead of fueling peace, the Egyptian and Jordanian accords were used by Israel’s fanatics as obstacles to peace. Israel removed Egypt and Jordan from the equation, leaving Palestine weak and voiceless.
Israel now violates all the agreements they signed. How do Egypt and Jordan allow Israel to build embassies in their nations, as the US embassy in Israel moves from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem?
The burden, though, falls on the shoulders of the entire Arab world for its weak response to the collapse of the peace process and the Jerusalem embassy move. Abbas has tried repeatedly to make peace but Israel is the obstacle, constantly slandering the Palestinian president and the whole Arab world.
Egypt and Jordan should close Israel’s embassies in their countries and end all contact with Israel. The Arab world should end all contact with Israel too.
If the Arab world could find the courage to do the right thing and shut the door on Israel, Tel Aviv would immediately agree to a Palestinian state. But Israel knows that the real weakness is not Abbas or the Palestinians, it is the wider the Arab world that long ago abandoned its obligations.