Yesterday’s ill-considered decision by 138 nations of the UN General Assembly to extend non-member observer status to the Palestinian National Authority touched off celebrations throughout Gaza. That is because Hamas, not the Palestinian people, emerged as the clear winner.
Misrepresenting himself as the leader of the Palestinian people, Mahmoud Abbas solemnly told delegates that, “The moment has arrived for the world to say clearly: Enough of aggression, settlements and occupation.”
He went on to assure the Assembly that he “came to launch a final serious attempt to achieve peace,” then demanded nothing less than “the realization of [the Palestinian people’s] inalienable national rights in their independent State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, on all the land of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, which Israel occupied in the June 1967 war, in conformity with the resolutions of international legitimacy and with the achievement of a just and agreed upon solution to the Palestine refugee issue in accordance with resolution 194, as stipulated in the Arab Peace Initiative which presented the consensus Arab vision to resolve the core the Arab-Israeli conflict and to achieve a just and comprehensive peace.”
First, it must be clearly understood that Mahmoud Abbas is no more the representative of the Palestinian people than Yassir Arafat was.
At present, Mahmoud Abbas is leader of nothing. He was elected president of the Palestinian National Authority in 2005 on the Fatah ticket, and his term ended in 2009. On his own authority, he extended his term for another year. Since then, he has neither legitimate authority nor standing.
In 2006, Hamas defeated Fatah for rule over Gaza. And if an election was held in the West Bank today, Hamas would win a landslide victory over Mahmoud Abbas, as evidenced by celebration throughout the West Bank after Hamas terrorists launched hundreds of missiles into Israel, murdering innocent citizens.
Nor is Mahmoud Abbas authorized to speak for the 1.3 million Palestinians still living in refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank, and Gaza.
A question I have posed many times before is, which Palestinian State is Mahmoud Abbas talking about? The Palestine of the West Bank or the Palestine of Gaza, isolated from one another by culture, politics, the Negev Desert, and thirty miles of Israel?
The UN also would have done better to take another look at the pre-1967 borders, which they treat as though the Six-Day War was micro-imperialism on the part of Israel.
In the summer of 1967, Israel was surrounded and ridiculously outnumbered by enemies who joined forces to drive every Jew into the sea, joking that they hoped the fish were hungry.
But these massive, heavily-equipped armies lost both their dignity and the war, leaving Israel in control of the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza, the Golan Heights, and the West Bank—not as a land grab, but as a reasonable and necessary defense against another genocidal attack.
Even so, twelve years later, nearly two years after Egyptian President Anwar Sadat came to Israel with a sincere offer of peace, Israel returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt.
But Sadat was assassinated and Hosni Mubarak was overthrown, and today, Egypt is in the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood, leaving Sinai an open corridor for weapons into Gaza. Iranian weapons—Grad and Fajr-5 missiles, anti-aircraft missiles, and shoulder-held anti-tank missiles—are built in Sudan by Iran or shipped to Sudan from Iran. From Khartoum, the weapons are taken overland through eastern Sudan, into Egypt, up through Sinai, and into Gaza through a warren of tunnels. Totally unopposed by Egypt!
It is important to remember, too, that Israel did the same thing with Gaza as with Sinai. In 2006, Israel pulled out of Gaza entirely, even arresting their own settlers who refused to leave and exhuming their dead from the cemeteries. All for the promise of peace.
The fruit of both concessions was evident a week ago when Hamas extremists in Gaza used weapons smuggled to them through Egypt to attack Israelis. Just as they did throughout two intifadas, Hamas jihadis fired missiles from heavily populated areas, using their own people, including many children, as human shields. As the smoke rose and the corpses were dug out of the debris, they wept and wailed and used the deaths for fundraising. But the blood of those precious Palestinian children is not on the hands of Israel; it stains the hands of Hamas.
And now the wisdom of the international community is for Israel to withdraw from the West Bank as well? Israel’s enemies failed to shoot it, so now they are trying to force it to commit suicide. This will never happen.
Tomorrow is the deadline by the “Quartet” (US, UN, EU, and Russia) for Israel and Palestine to present a timeframe for agreement over territory and security. But the ploy by Mahmoud Abbas at the UN, a move to edge Israel out of the process—combined with the power grab by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan—could prove to be a shot below the waterline that will sink the fragile peace process altogether.