Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas greets delegates after addressing the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, US, September 20, 2017. .
(photo credit: EDUARDO MUNOZ / REUTERS)
There are many steps Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas can take to facilitate the eventual establishment of an autonomous, functioning Palestinian state. Receiving pro forma recognition in international bodies is not one of them.
Abbas’s latest attempt is to gain admission as a full member-state in Interpol – the International Police Organization. The Palestinians will be campaigning for the move in Beijing during Interpol’s annual meeting there this week. They failed last year in an identical bid. But sources in Jerusalem have told The Jerusalem Post’s Herb Keinon that this time there is a better chance the push will succeed if the matter comes to a vote.
Launching high-profile initiatives in Beijing or in New York during the UN General Assembly meeting might garner media attention, but Abbas
would be better off utilizing his time and concentrating his energies on issues closer to home.
Inside the areas under PA control, Abbas should be strengthening rule and order while protecting basic human rights, including freedom of the press. Basic rights and the institutions that protect them are the foundation for a stable, non-belligerent state.
Instead, he is working with Hamas to silence people like Hajer Harb, a courageous female journalist based in Gaza. Harb, who fled to Jordan after being diagnosed with cancer, uncovered how the Hamas and the PA were blackmailing sick Palestinians by demanding bribes in return for issuing permits to leave the Gaza Strip for medical treatment in Israel, the West Bank and some Arab and Western countries. Those who are unable to pay the bribes are left to die in understaffed and underfunded Gaza hospitals.
The crackdown on Harb, who was given a six-month prison sentence and fined, raises questions about what sort of Palestinian state would emerge under present Palestinian rule.
In addition to strengthening transparency and democratic institutions, while fighting – instead of perpetuating – corruption and cronyism, Abbas should also be focusing on preparing his people for peace. Making it clear that the State of Israel is here to stay would be an important start. As long as Palestinians refuse to reconcile themselves to the permanence of the State of Israel, it will be impossible for them to imagine peace.
Unfortunately, Abbas has done nothing during his extended stint as president to prepare the Palestinians for compromises. What he has done is glorify terrorists responsible for the murder of Israelis; encourage official PA media and ministries to reject Jewish ties to the land; and incite against Israel.
Ahead of his speech before the UN General Assembly last week, Abbas told Al-Quds Al-Arabi
, a Palestinian newspaper printed in London, that the Trump administration asked him for more time to formulate ideas how to jump start the peace process. During this period, Abbas promised to avoid unilateral moves in international forums pending a new American initiative.
But now Abbas is once again pursuing international recognition for a “Palestinian State” without taking the requisite steps of building the foundations. In doing so, he is not only undermining American trust and hurting the chances of success for the Trump administration’s attempts to bring Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table, he is also diverting attention away from the real issues at hand.
A Palestinian state emerging from the present reality on the West Bank and in Gaza would be a corrupt regime that is hostile to democratic freedoms at home and unreconciled to Israel’s existence. That Palestinian leadership is split between the West Bank and Gaza further complicates matters.
Seeking membership in Interpol might give the impression that all the Palestinians lack is official recognition for a de facto Palestinian state. But this is only an impression that has little to do with reality.
Palestinians still lack the unity and good governance needed to ensure that Palestine does not become yet another failed Arab state. All the international declarations in the world won’t change this painful fact.