Tomorrow, November 29, the PLO will attempt to erase a colossal historic mistake.

Sixty-five years to the day after foolishly squandering their opportunity for national self-determination by rejecting the 1947 UN Partition Plan for Palestine and instead launching a war to snuff out the Jewish State at its very inception, the Palestinian people – under the PLO’s leadership – hope to go back in time.

On Thursday, the UN General Assembly will be asked to vote on a measure that will upgrade the PLO-controlled Palestinian Authority’s status to a non-member observer state. PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki said that vote, which the PLO will undoubtedly win since the vast majority of UN member-states are antagonistic to Israel, would be “a historic turning point in the march of our people toward and independence.”

Would it really? Malki, PA President Mahmoud Abbas and the rest of the PLO’s leaders should know better than to believe that it is possible to go back in time. After failing to wipe out Israel in 1948 and again in 1967 and after decades of senseless bloodshed and terrorism, the Palestinian people should admit the failures of their past leaders, recognize that the State of Israel is here to stay and accept the idea of reconciliation and negotiation with the Jewish State.

Instead, the Palestinian leadership is once again making a grave mistake that is liable to further delay the realization of Palestinians’ national aspirations.

Firstly, the bid for UN recognition of quasi-statehood status for Palestinians seems motivated more by the PLO’s narrow political interests vis-à-vis Hamas than by a true desire to better the lot of the Palestinian people.

The PLO is presently losing out to Hamas in the Palestinian popularity contest. The PLO hopes the UN initiative will shift local and international attention back to the West Bank leadership.

Even before the clashes in Gaza, the PLO and Abbas were suffering from a crisis of leadership. And during the recent conflict in Gaza, Hamas basked in the limelight with Qatar, Turkey and Egypt sending high-ranking officials to help negotiate a cease-fire. Meanwhile, Abbas and his cronies in Ramallah barely made the headlines, despite US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit there.

Secondly, by emphasizing unilateral declarations – empty of any but symbolic meaning – over dialogue and compromise, the UN bid further delays the day when both sides – Israelis and Palestinians – sit down at the negotiating table and hammer out their differences.

Abbas can conveniently ignore the fact that he rejected former prime minister Ehud Olmert’s generous 2008 offer – as described by Olmert himself – to give the PLO 93.6 percent of the West Bank plus land swaps inside the Green Line to ensure that the PLO received 100 percent of the total land area it claims.

Thirdly, the UN bid creates the false impression that the Palestinian people – like the Jewish people living in Palestine in 1947 – are prepared for statehood and that the only obstacle to achieving this statehood is a formal UN declaration. In reality, Palestinian political leadership is irreparably split between the Hamas terrorist regime that runs Gaza Strip and the PLO, which controls the West Bank. It is a sad irony that Palestinians may very well achieve UN recognition of “a unified and sovereign” Palestinian state at almost exactly the moment when internal conflicts between Hamas and the PLO make the realization of such a state more impossible than ever.

Sadly, due to the steady radicalization of the Palestinian people, the most likely scenario for Palestinian unity is a Hamas takeover of the West Bank.

Finally, the UN bid to recognize a State of Palestine in the territory that came under Israeli control after the 1967 Six Day War, is a shameless campaign to garner official UN delegitimization of Israeli control not only in places such as Ma’aleh Adumim, with a population of 40,000, but also at sites resonant with religious, cultural and historical meaning for the Jewish people such as the Western Wall.

The PLO’s UN bid is misguided and wrongheaded and will do nothing but add to the long list of historic mistakes made by Palestinian leadership which date back at least to November 29, 1947 when Palestinians failed to grab their chance for nationhood and self-determination.

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