|William Hague MP|
British Foreign Secretary, William Hague MP, speaking in parliament the day before the UN vote to grant Palestine non member observer status, explained why Britain was unable to support the vote at the General Assembly, despite wanting to. He said that the UK was not against a Palestinian state, in fact as we know, they support a two state solution, but that if there was to be agreement to the Israel / Palestine issue, there had to be direct negotiations. He therefore made the UK's support conditional on Mr. Abbas agreeing to immediate re-start of direct talks with Israel, with no pre-conditions. Mr. Abbas did not respond to Mr. Hague, and the UK abstained on Thursday.
This makes us wonder what the Palestinian Authority is planning to do next? Abbas, who a week ago had become almost irrelevant in the eyes of his people when compared to Hamas & its 'martyrs', has certainly put himself back on the front page of the Palestinian newspapers for at least a few days. The Palestinian people have had their expectations raised, having been told that something significant has happened at the UN, but in truth all the Palestinians gained is new ways to make mischief on international stages and nothing substantive that will move the Palestinians toward a future or improve their lives. In fact, the possibility of a full Palestinian state may have been set back for years, if not permanently by Abbas's attempt to make himself relevant again. When the Palestinians realize (as they soon will) that their mandate expired, extremely unpopular leader and his corrupt inefficient Palestinian Authority have once again wasted their time and achieved nothing, their disappointment will turn to further support for Hamas & other terror groups. Attacks on Israelis will increase, any Israeli response will be met by cries of "restraint" from the hand-wringing UN & "war crimes" from the morally bankrupt Arab world, and peace? That appears further away then it was before this ridiculous vote.
One thing we have learned from this UN stunt is that once again, as even sympathetic Hague noted had been their policy for some time, the Palestinians are going to avoid negotiations. The day after the vote, Mr. Abbas did not say "right, now lets talk"...no, he said, "we're going to report anything Israel does that we don't like to the International Criminal Court" (which they can now do thanks to the UN and its Islamic block vote). In other words, the one gain he feels he has made is on the propaganda stage. So Palestine may not have a future, but Pallywood certainly does! This would gladden the hating hearts of many opponents of Israel, but it would also have the potential to cause a backlash from European governments and certainly from Israel and the United States. The ICC does important work, and many countries would hopefully resent the Palestinian hijacking its already clogged calendar and diverting its work to becoming a tool for their propaganda, as they did to the Durban conference on Racism.
The Palestinians would probably face the cutting off of funds to their cash-strapped authority. Meanwhile, any U.N. agency Palestine sought to join would probably find itself, like UNESCO, facing the loss of the one-fifth of its budget supplied by Congress. The almost bankrupt Palestinian Authority, by pushing the UN vote against strong US opposition,has basically bitten the American hand that feeds it and may have committed suicide.
In the meantime, Israel (still the only genuine democracy in the Middle East) is six weeks away from general elections. Barring an unseen and unlikely scandal, Prime Minister Netanyahu's Likud party will win the most seats in the Knesset, the only question remaining is how many extra MKs he will need to create a coalition. If, as seems likely, Abbas's stunt has angered the Israeli public, alienating support for so called 'doves' on Israels fragmented political left, Bibi will be the big winner. Not only will he pick up seats, but other smaller parties on the right will also gain, enabling Netanyahu to form a government with few if any moderate voices. This will make the next government stable and long term and mean that concession from Israel less likely and this will again be partially thanks to Abbas's UN bid.
We will, over the next few weeks, hear a great deal of noise from the Palestinians about Israeli 'settlements' being the big stumbling block, and any development on Jerusalem's edge will be described as 'settlement activity', but this is just 'noise'. The Palestinians know that if they say "lets just talk" Israel will more than likely freeze construction in any disputed area in an effort to encourage negotiations. Indeed, if the Palestinians want settlement building to stop, then all they need to do is have an internationally agreed border with Israel...but of course to get that they'll need negotiations and not empty UN votes.
Netanyahu remembers that his first act as prime minister was to freeze settlement activity for 10 months, at great political cost, to encourage Abbas to negotiations. Abbas totally ignored the gesture. So the issue isn't settlement building, it isn't UN votes, it isn't even financial...it is that Abbas is unwilling or unable to enter into talks. He cannot ever say this of course (at least not in any language other than Arabic) but this is his policy. Any concession to Israel in negotiations will be met with violent rejection from the Palestinian street, told since 1947 that the true goal is nothing less than the destruction of Israel and a state built across the entirety of where Israel stands today. Abbas knows this will never be, but he also knows that the Palestinians won't accept a two state solution in 2012 anymore than they did in 1947. So he makes noise about talks, finds reasons why they cant happen (settlements, pre-conditions Israel will not accept, UN votes etc).
|Abbas - Peace in our time?|
Abbas gets away with his 'talks avoidance strategy' because even those international politicians such as Hague who recognize it for what it is, enable the Palestinians to play this game. How is it a pro-Israel position to tell Palestinians to get their butts to the negotiating table or there will be no more financial support ? Divert aid money currently propping up his stagnant position, and place it in an international fund for a future Palestine - if they want it, then they need to create a state to receive it, and if they want to do that, then they need to drop the impossible preconditions and talk to Israel. That is how they'll create a future for themselves and supporting that is as pro-Palestinian as it gets.