Palestinian Leadership Must Save Itself


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ May 17 op-ed in The New York Times is a masterpiece of revision, rejection and recrimination in support of one simple request to the international community on behalf of the Palestinian people – please save us from ourselves. Having stubbornly refused to lead the Palestinians to resolve the conflict through the only viable approach, direct negotiations with Israel, he turns to the United Nations to enable and reward Palestinian denial of Israel’s right to exist. This essential element of the Palestinian worldview of Israel has always been at the core of the conflict.

President Abbas has no difficulty "reconciling" and reaching agreements with Hamas, an extremist anti-Semitic organization sworn to Israel’s destruction, but he now says he cannot possibly reconcile and reach agreements with Israel. He doesn’t even try to hide his ultimate goal. Gaining UN admission, he says, would "pave the way for the internationalization of the conflict as legal matter, not only a political one…" and "… pave the way for us to pursue claims against Israel at the United Nations, human rights treaty bodies and the International Court of Justice."

Here is von Clausewitz’s famous observation about war being diplomacy by other means, turned upside down. In Abbas’ formulation, diplomacy is simply war by other means.

Abbas now wants the world to close its eyes to the sad reality that 63 years of war and terror against Israel and the serial rejection of peace in the course of nearly two decades of negotiations have not served the Palestinian cause.

By ignoring, twisting and distorting basic historical facts, he falls back on a dark mythic narrative of "catastrophic" Palestinian persecution at the hands of Israel following the 1947 United Nations two-state solution in the partition plan. Mr. Abbas argues that the world owes the Palestinians a state, born of his version of Palestinian victimhood.

Starting with the rejection of the UN partition plan, for more than six decades the Palestinians have been victimized by their own leaders.

They were victims in 1948 when the armies of five Arab countries invaded Israel with the promise of driving the Jews out; they were victims in 1967 and 1973, when Israel’s Arab neighbors were ready to try again to rid the region of the Jewish state; they were victims of former Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat’s iron-fisted reign of corruption, his rejection of the sweeping Israeli offer made at Camp David in 2000, and his resort to murderous suicide terrorism in 2001. They were victims of President Abbas’ refusal to accept the offer of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and, most recently, his unwillingness to negotiate with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after the unprecedented 10 month freeze on settlement construction.

And, finally, they were victims of Abbas’ decision to embrace Hamas, whose founding charter is replete with the most grotesque expressions of genocidal anti-Semitism imaginable, which they use to justify murderous acts of terror against Israelis.

In a sad and perverted way, President Abbas has shown the world the true nature of Palestinian goals, revealing once again the ultimate maximalist Palestinian position, one that has been the objective since 1947 – that there should be no Jewish state in the Middle East.

Here is the opportunity for the international community to let President Abbas know it is up to the Palestinian leadership to save itself, that the UN will not enable them to sidestep their responsibility, and that there is no way to resolve the conflict other than through negotiations with Israel.

Abraham H. Foxman is national director of the Anti-Defamation League and the author of, most recently, "Jews and Money: The Story of a Stereotype."