World less indulgent of Mahmoud Abbas' tantrums

The Palestinians need American support, or – at the very least – don’t need Trump, a Trump who may very likely be around until 2025, as an enemy.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a Security Council meeting at the United Nations in New York, U.S., February 11, 2020 (photo credit: REUTERS/SHANNON STAPLETON)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a Security Council meeting at the United Nations in New York, U.S., February 11, 2020
As Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas angrily rejected US President Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century” in a speech Tuesday at the UN Security Council In Manhattan, some 425 km. to the northeast, voters in Concord, New Hampshire, were braving icy cold to cast their ballots in the Democratic primary.
According to the polls, Bernie Sanders – from neighboring Vermont – would likely win that contest, adding to his near-win last week in Iowa.
Sanders is likely to emerge from New Hampshire with impressive momentum going into the upcoming primaries in Nevada and South Carolina, and then into the all-important Super Tuesday contests on March 3, when more than a dozen states will be voting for their delegates to the Democratic National Convention.
In other words, Sanders – representing the far-Left wing of the Democratic Party – could end up as that party’s nominee to face off against Trump in November. It’s not a certainty, but it’s a possibility.
And it’s a possibility that representatives of the 14 other countries besides the US sitting around the table in the Security Council also certainly have in mind.
Why? Because Sanders would be Trump’s dream rival, somebody whose vision of America is likely too far Left for the American mainstream.
Sure, a Quinnipiac University poll released on Monday showed Sanders beating Trump by 51% to 43% in the popular vote. But the popular vote is not the electoral vote, and – besides – the same polling organization had Hillary Clinton beating Trump by seven percentage points some two weeks before his victory in 2016.
What all this means for those around the table listening to Abbas – and representatives of other countries tuning in – is that while the Palestinian leader is certainly praying with all his might that Trump goes down to ignominious defeat in November, those prayers might not be answered, and Trump might very well return to the White House in January for four more years – especially if Sanders is running against him.
And while the Palestinians have chosen to play the petulant child with the Americans, boycotting them and calling both Trump and the members of his Mideast team vicious names, serious countries facing serious threats they need the US to help them deal with, don’t have that luxury.
They need American support, or – at the very least – don’t need Trump, a Trump who may very likely be around until 2025, as an enemy.
In 2017, when the Palestinians led a charge at the UN against America’s decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem, the US was isolated, and had to use its veto for the first time in six years against a resolution against the move.
America’s envoy to the UN at the time, Nikki Haley, called that vote an “insult” and said it would not be forgotten. Then, when the resolution moved from the Security Council to the UN General Assembly, Haley said that Washington would be “taking names” of those voting for it. Despite the threat, 128 states voted with the Palestinians and against the US.
Fast forward a little over two years, with the international community staring down the barrel of what may be four more years of Trump, and an appetite to go head-to-head with the president over the Palestinian issues seems, at least a bit, to be waning. There are many countries around the world and especially in the region – from Saudi Arabia to Egypt – not keen on Trump “taking their names.”
Look at Tunisia, one of the countries that originally brought the Palestinian resolution to the UN last week, only then to turn around and fire its ambassador to the UN apparently for going too far in his criticism of the Trump plan. Why? Because the last thing the new government in Tunis needs now is to antagonize Trump.
Or take Britain, a permanent member of the Security Council and no longer bound to follow EU foreign policy leads. Does Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in this post-Brexit reality, really want to side with Abbas’s ‘rejectionism’ over the US?
When Trump unveiled his plan two weeks ago in the White House, the original reaction in Europe – and even in some Arab states such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Oman the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and even Qatar – was, if not an enthusiastic embrace, at least a tepid “this is a step in the right direction.”
But the plan was met by a “thousand nos” by Abbas, who then got his rejection endorsed – as he almost automatically does – by the foreign ministers of the Arab League, who will always pay him lip service.
Intoxicated by his own rhetoric, Abbas decided to go the well-worn path of bringing a resolution against the plan to the UN Security Council, hoping to isolate the US and Israel.
But not all countries there – and countries outside the body who have some sway on those inside the Council – want to isolate the US, if only because they may later need it.
Those countries were not willing to sign off on the draft of the resolution the Palestinians circulated, and a vote on even a watered-down resolution was postponed, with the Palestinians not sure they could muster the nine votes needed for it to pass and necessitate a US veto.
The failure of the Palestinians on Tuesday to ram a resolution against the Trump Plan through the Security Council is just the latest example of a UN that is no longer an arena where the Palestinians can score a slam dunk at will. They can always score some points, but no longer with a slam dunk.
For example, in December, 11 EU countries, plus Latin American powers Brazil and Colombia, voted for the first time against a resolution that has passed every year since 1977 mandating a special “Division for Palestinian Rights” inside the UN Secretariat, devoted to promoting the Palestinian narrative against Israel. The resolution still passed, but the votes against were a significant change.
Three months earlier, in September, the Palestinians – trying to join as many UN organizations and protocols as possible – failed to get the two-third majority needed to gain full admission to the Bern, Switzerland-headquartered Universal Postal Union.
And in December 2018, fully 87 UN countries bucked the Palestinian will and voted for a resolution condemning Hamas. The resolution did not pass because a two-third majority was needed, but that vote was indicative of changes happening – slowly – at the UN.
Tuesday’s developments are another indication, though the failure of the Palestinians to muster an emphatic rejection of the US plan – more than an indication of changing attitude towards Israel in the world body – reflects a growing realization around the world that Trump may be here to stay… at least until January 2025.