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WaPo Editorial Blasts Abbas for “Bridge-Burning” Speech at UN

In an unsigned editorial today, the editors of The Washington Post note that since Hamas emerged as the “loser of the summer war,” its loss allows for “new possibilities for agreement between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.” However, the editorial finds Abbas wanting:

Mr. Abbas, after all, denounced Hamas’s embrace of carnage and refused to support a simultaneous uprising in the West Bank. Yet Mr. Abbas delivered a bridge-burning speech to the U.N. General Assembly last week, mendaciously accusing Israel of “a new war of genocide” and declaring that a return to negotiations was “impossible.”

The editorial criticizes Abbas for more than his incendiary rhetoric, but also for his tactics.

For several years Mr. Abbas has oscillated between half-hearted participation in peace talks and attempts to advance the Palestinian cause through unilateral action at the United Nations. The latter initiatives have no chance of substantive success and risk being self-defeating, as the Palestinians should have learned from Mr. Abbas’s last such gambit in 2012. Then their lobbyists were unable to win enough support for a U.N. Security Council resolution even to force a U.S. veto, and a compensatory symbolic measure in the General Assembly provoked Israel to impose painful financial sanctions.

Mr. Abbas nevertheless is trying the Security Council again, after refusing to respond to a U.S. framework for peace talks painstakingly developed by Secretary of State John F. Kerry. He proposes a resolution that would mandate the creation of a Palestinian state based on Israel’s 1967 borders in a set period of time; when it is voted down or vetoed by the United States, the Palestinians hint that they will seek a war crimes investigation of Israel by the International Criminal Court. That, in turn, would almost certainly prompt retaliatory sanctions by Mr. Netanyahu’s government and possibly by Congress, which supplies the Palestinian Authority with much of its funding.

Abbas’ attempts to internationalize his conflict with Israel has been identified by Jonathan Schanzer as the Palestine 194 plan. Abbas argued in a 2011 op-ed in The New York Times that internationalizing the conflict with Israel politically would “pave the way for us to pursue claims against Israel at the United Nations, human rights treaty bodies and the International Court of Justice.”

Back in May, the deputy editorial page editor of The Washington Post, Jackson Diehl, noted that “Abbas expects to … submit petitions to the United Nations and watch the anti-Israel boycotts mushroom, while paying no price of his own.”

Having alienated Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with his UN speech, Abbas is ensuring that negotiations with Israel are less likely to succeed. The Washington Post editorial observes that Abbas “persists in grandstanding gestures that he must know will only delay the serious negotiations that must precede the creation of a Palestinian state and that undermine those in Israel who support such talks.”

[Photo: U. S. Department of State / WikiCommons ]