Oslo Accords architect Yossi Beilin meets Palestinian Authority president Yasser Arafat in Jericho, in 1997.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
On September 30, the Palestinian flag was raised at the United Nations headquarters in New York City for the first time. The day before, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas stated in a Huffington Post editorial: “I am certain that the day our flag rises... will also be a most emotional and proud day.”
While Abbas raised the Palestinian flag in front of the UN, he managed to lower the prospects for peace, with his threat of dismantling the Oslo Accords. Also referred to as the Declaration of Principles – this agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians was the closest both parties have ever come to achieving peace and coexistence. The accords ultimately failed, but today, Israel and the PA cooperate in a variety of ways that came directly out of the 1990s peace process Abbas is on the verge of abandoning.
It is because of this very agreement that Israeli and Palestinian entities work together on a daily basis. The Israeli Defense Forces unit COGAT (Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories), for example, which serves as a liaison between Israel and the PA, demonstrates that coexistence can come through humanitarian development.
From organizing urgent medical care for Palestinians in the West Bank to managing infrastructure projects such as water and sewage, COGAT and the PA collaborate on multiple fronts, including on security issues.
The message Abbas is communicating to the world continues to be that Israel holds more responsibility than the PA for the lack of a final peace agreement, therefore justifying the cancellation of the accords. However, it was Abbas himself who incited the recent violence in east Jerusalem by declaring, “Every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem is pure, every shahid [martyr] will reach paradise.”
These messages of encouragement to his own people to endanger themselves for the purpose of acting as human weapons against Israel comes while Abbas’ PA continues to embezzle foreign aid. A recent article by Liel Leibovitz in Tablet Magazine revealed that $2.64 billion in aid from the European Union to the PA was lost to mismanagement or to corruption between 2008-2012. We can acknowledge that Israel is not perfect – no country is – but Abbas’ notion that his government’s conduct in the peace process has been vastly superior to Israel’s is simple propaganda.
It is time for Abbas to live up to his own words in his editorial: “World leaders must find the political will to... make good on the commitments they collectively made to the Palestinian people over decades.” Solving this conflict will require both sides to build upon the foundations that have already been put in place instead of threatening to dismantle what has been accomplished.
So while the international community remains silent on the threat made by the Palestinian president to deconstruct peace, it is undoubtedly a loss for Israel, but it’s Abbas’ own people that he is once again letting down.The author is the mid-Atlantic campus coordinator for StandWithUs.