Middle East Monitor / December 8, 2021
Palestinian Authority leader, Mahmoud Abbas’s UN General Assembly speech will remain a reference for a while longer. As Israel plans further settlement expansion, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, the spokesman for Abbas, said that Israel’s settlement expansion “will push the Palestinian leadership to accelerate its implementation of the ultimatum” announced during the UNGA speech. Israel, Abbas said, has one year to withdraw to the 1967 borders, or else the PA will rescind its recognition of Israel’s right to exist.
However, Abbas seems more intent on promoting, yet again, the need to hold an international peace conference, as he stated during a joint press conference with Tunisian President, Kais Saied. If Israel does not cease with its violations, Abbas declared, “We will have our options and measures soon.”
Needless to say, the PA is not in a position to decide options and measures, throttled as it is by the same entities that fund its existence, and for which Israel’s presence remains a priority, over even the hypothesis of an independent Palestinian state.
Abbas’s UNGA threat is also futile. At this point, when de-facto annexation is Israel’s priority, the PA’s recognition of Israel amounts to little more than a diplomatic nicety. The harm initiated decades ago will not be undone with any future declaration from the PA, not when the Ramallah echelons have proved their untrustworthiness repeatedly. The Palestinian people are unlikely to forget the gimmicks Abbas pulled throughout this year, from the cancellation of elections to resuming security coordination with Israel. Let alone how the PA’s security services proved themselves to be as violent as their Israeli counterparts, notably as a result of the killing of Palestinian activist and critic, Nizar Banat.
If Abbas implements his threat, international donors will be in a better position to demand even more acquiescence from the PA. Palestinian state building and the funding Abbas receives for this illusion is built on the premise that Israel remains recognized and unchallenged.
What Abbas and Abu Rudeineh both failed to expound upon is how the PA would implement its threat. How will Abbas’s fixation on international peace conferences accelerate any purported rescinding of recognizing Israel? Additionally, Abbas’s adherence to the two-state compromise automatically implies recognition of Israel. If Abbas is still championing the concept of international peace conferences to kick-start negotiations that uphold the two-state diplomacy, would that not render Abbas’s threat void?
Unless the PA decides to embrace anti-colonial resistance, which it will not, there is no danger from Abbas’s empty threats. Israel, however, is endangering Palestine and is encountering no opposition to its international law violations and war crimes. The PA’s fixation on involving the international community does not hinder Israel. On the contrary, it bolsters Israel’s de-facto annexation because no opposition has been made to the stealth at which Palestinian territory is being appropriated. If the PA remembers well, it was the formalization of colonialism that the international community took issue with, and only sparingly.
Only one threat would work if truly implemented, and that would be to allow Palestinians a say in the politics that determine their lives. But the PA, of course, would not want any alternative that jeopardizes its authority. Abbas seems to have also conveniently forgotten that he has accepted Israel’s aid to quell Palestinian resistance. In light of how dependent the PA is on Israel for its survival, what recognition will Abbas be revoking at the end of the stipulated time-frame?
Ramona Wadi is an independent researcher, freelance journalist, book reviewer and blogger; her writing covers a range of themes in relation to Palestine, Chile and Latin America