After first delivering a peace proposal in 2008, Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas plan to hold a long overdue press conference Tuesday afternoon in New York concerning prospects for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Unfortunately, instead of presenting two sides of a negotiated political process, both will be presenting the Palestinian side.
Ehud Olmert – Israeli, former mayor of Jerusalem, former prime minister of Israel – will be sitting on the side of the Palestinian leader, the very same day that Abbas continues to incite violence against Israelis at home and isolate Israel abroad.
Ehud, do not come to the United Nations.
Even before US President Donald Trump unveiled his “Deal of the Century” at a White House press conference, Mahmoud Abbas was already angling to come to New York to condemn it before the United Nations Security Council. Despite not knowing its contents, Abbas’ immediate reaction was to cast it aside.
Such is the temperament and action of a “leader.” Instead of even entertaining a path to peace and prosperity, Abbas remains adamant about committing his people to a future of rejectionism and terrorism. For sixteen years, he has preferred to grandstand for the cameras with futile theatrics at the UN than to sit with Israel in direct negotiations.
One day, Abbas will depart from his position. Instead of earning a place in history as a great peace maker like Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Jordan’s King Hussein, history will only recall Abbas as a great peace refuser. Years of opportunities – culminating in the Trump Administration’s “Peace to Prosperity” – have been vetoed on their face in favor of a diplomatic campaign against Israel the world over, most prominently at the UN.
Yet, it is abundantly clear to even the casual observer that one who spends millions of dollars a year encouraging and supporting acts of violence and terrorism against the Jews of Israel cannot be considered a partner for peace.
Looking at Abbas’ track record during his tenure as chairman of the Palestinian Authority, one would be forgiven for thinking that his greatest political aspiration is endless war with Israel in the international arena. It is unclear if he is even interested in advancing the causes of the people he purports to represent.
A statesman, Mr. Abbas, you are not.
Yet, none of this appears to factor into Olmert’s decision to stand with the chairman against Israel at the United Nations. The former prime minister likes to boast about his negotiations with Abbas; he never seems to miss an opportunity to highlight the close relationship they developed.
The reality, however, is that Abbas still refused to respond to Olmert’s offer in 2008, the most far-reaching proposal from an Israeli leader. And it did not discourage Abbas from opening a new front against the Jewish State in Turtle Bay, this time taking his mantra of rejectionism to the United Nations. Now, after more than a decade of Abbas denigrating Israel before the international community, Olmert will stand alongside the very man who spurned peace over a decade ago, and who continues to deny it today.
The sad irony is that now is exactly the time to stand alongside Israel against Abbas’ rejectionism. It is Abbas who has incited against Israel in recent days, leading to violence and casualties among both Israelis and Palestinians. It is Abbas who chooses to speak to the world in a press conference but not to Israel in direct negotiations. It is Abbas who calls the greatest opportunity for his people the “slap of the century,” and in so doing, attacking Israel’s greatest ally. Olmert’s decision to join Abbas now is an unfortunate demonstration of support for the great peace refuser.
Ehud, your commitment to the past blinds you to the future. We must not strengthen the hand of those who reward terrorism and violence against our people. You know very well that the road to resolving this conflict does not pass through New York, but only through Jerusalem and Ramallah.
It is not too late to cancel this charade. Do not come to the United Nations.
The writer is Israel’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations.