B’nai B’rith International denounces Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas’ disavowal of signed peace agreements with Israel in his speech to the U.N. General Assembly today. Abbas painted a picture of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that was divorced from reality and he used it as grounds to pull his administration from its commitments with Israel.
On a day when he was called up to the U.N. rostrum as the head of state of the "State of Palestine"—and when the United Nations made the Palestinians the only people to have their flag flown there in advance of the establishment and admission of an actual state—Abbas said he was declaring "that we cannot continue to be bound by these [past] agreements and that Israel must assume all of its responsibilities as an occupying power." He added that he would escalate Palestinian pursuit of membership in international organizations, which have been exploited as propaganda tools against Israel.
The statement by Abbas shows the true face of the PA. Abbas appropriates the trappings of statehood, refuses its obligations, and shifts these to Israel rather than engaging in genuine peacemaking with the Jewish state. Yet the PA cannot achieve its objectives by fiat or by manipulating the United Nations and its agencies. Abbas and his Palestinian peers must recognize Jewish statehood and respect the basic rights of Israelis if the Palestinians’ political goals are to concretely materialize.
In a 40-minute speech before the General Assembly, Abbas again directed inflammatory rhetoric and mistruths at Israel while avoiding his responsibility for the current state of relations between the two sides. Abbas demanded full recognition at the United Nations and rebuffed the direct bilateral negotiations with Israel that the U.N. itself long insisted upon as the only legitimate path to progress.
Abbas invoked recent violence at Jerusalem's Temple Mount, rehashing his revisionist narrative of developments at the site, obfuscating its essential Jewish history and escalating efforts to prevent Jewish visits there. Abbas claimed that Palestinians are “working to spread the culture of peace.” This week, though, Palestinian rioters armed with stones and firebombs mobilized to prevent non-Muslims from entering Temple Mount, even though Israel has for decades explicitly protected Islamic privilege there.
Abbas asserted that a two-state solution requires unconditional international recognition of a Palestinian state that does not yet exist. However, he failed to acknowledge that the terrorist group Hamas, which violently seized control of the Gaza Strip from him, remains fervently committed to Israel’s destruction and continues its utterly unprovoked and indiscriminate attacks on civilian communities inside Israel.
If the PA were serious about peace, its officials would be sitting down with the Israeli government to negotiate a lasting, comprehensive peace rather than pursuing symbolic victories and senseless confrontation at the United Nations.