Everyone in the United States who follows politics tuned in last Thursday to the dramatic Senate hearings regarding the nomination of Judge Brett
Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Those who closely follow the State of Israel tuned in to the United Nations, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the world.
Like the Kavanaugh hearings, Netanyahu did not disappoint, delivering a landmark speech that grabbed international headlines, mostly due to the revelation of intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program and Hezbollah’s development of long-range accurate missiles.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also spoke last Thursday, but the applause he received was the proverbial sound of one hand clapping. Nobody heard it, because there was nothing new in what he said.
Imagine if Abbas had said something bold and had spoken out of the box after decades of stale Palestine thinking. Had he done so, he would have made news and possibly grabbed the headlines away from Netanyahu. But it was not to be.
Instead, Abbas again fed the Palestinian people pipe dreams of an unrealistic future, creating false expectations.
He spoke of Donald Trump and what he has done as president of the United States: “In November 2017, his administration issued a decision to close the PLO office in Washington, DC. He then announced his recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and transferred his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and boasts that he has removed the issues of Jerusalem, refugees, settlements and security off the negotiation table. All such decisions threaten the Palestinian national cause.”
No, they don’t. They reflect a current reality. Trump never said he had taken refugees, settlements and security off the negotiation table. He said he had taken Jerusalem off the negotiation table.
The reason is that everyone already knows that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Israel knows it, the world knows it and the truth is that the Palestinians know it too. The question that really needs to be asked is why the PA teaches its children that someday there is going to be a State of Israel neighbor to the Palestinians, but its capital won’t be Jerusalem. Why does it feed them such deceptions?
Abbas spoke before the United Nations of how Trump is upending all the things that have been accepted until now. He is correct. Trump is upending much of what has been accepted until now, because he does not see things the same way Abbas does, does not accept incitement in Palestinian textbooks or that Jesus was a Palestinian as Abbas famously claimed a few years ago.
The reason there is no peace in 2018 is not because of what Trump has done. It is because of Palestinian intransigence. The world has changed, and the Palestinians are paying the price for Abbas’s intransigence.
The Palestinians have been offered deals before. They were offered the Oslo accords, they were offered a state from Prime Minister Ehud Barak, they were offered a state from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. In all cases, there was either no answer or the answer was no.
Abbas said in his speech, “to all Palestinians that we are soon approaching our day of freedom and independence.” Sadly, that is not the case. As long as he continues to reject meetings with US negotiators or talks with Israel without preconditions, there is no “day of freedom” on the horizon.
Abbas might be thinking that he can wait out the new political situation and see if the Democrats win in 2020 and hope everything goes back to the way it was. That is unlikely. Trump has moved the ball down the field and it will be hard to go backward. The peace deals being offered are not going to get better. That is the new reality.
“Jerusalem is not for sale, and the Palestinian people’s rights are not up for bargaining,” Abbas said at the opening of his speech. Israel says the same thing: Jerusalem is not for sale, and the Jewish people’s rights are not up for bargaining.
Both sides have claims. Come to the table, Mr. Abbas. Try and make a deal. Think out of the box. Make a headline of your own.