Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas addressed the United Nations Security Council this week, reiterating a farrago of falsehoods and distortions that underscore his lack of interest in a genuine peace with Israel.
From first to last, Abbas relied on inventing or revising history, tampering with facts and data, making misleading statements, and engaging in pure fantasy that can only be appreciated by examining his speech in some detail.
Among Abbas’ statements, the following, in particular, stand out:
Seventy years have passed since Palestine’s Naqba, from which 6 million Palestine refugees continue to suffer from the cruelty of exile and loss of human security. They continue to wander the world after the loss of their peaceful and stable lives in their homeland.
Except that the so-called naqba was brought about at Arab, not Jewish, instigation. Specifically, it was created by the Palestinian Arab and neighboring Arab states’ decision to resort to war in rejection of the U.N. General Assembly partition resolution of November 29, 1947, which sought to create Arab and Jewish states in Palestine — supposedly, exactly what Mahmoud Abbas and the PA want now. The Palestinian Arabs were not displaced by Israel’s emergence in May 1948; they were displaced by the war to which they resorted in an effort to abort Israel.
[The] Palestinians, whose country has not yet been recognized as full Member State of the United Nations, despite the numerous resolutions reaffirming their right to self-determination and statehood on their national land.
No Palestinian Arab state has emerged because the PA has repeatedly rejected offers of statehood in virtually all Judea/Samaria and Gaza: in 2000-2001, when then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered his peace plan, later enlarged in the Palestinians’ favor by President Bill Clinton’s parameters; and again in 2008, when then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert proposed an even more generous version of the 2001 plan to Abbas. In both cases, the PA rejected the proposals without counter-offer, while in 2000, it actually responded by launching a wave of terrorism against Israelis that claimed the lives of 1,500 Israeli civilians and caused the wounding and maiming off thousands more.
We are the descendants of the Canaanites that lived in the land of Palestine 5,000 years ago and continuously remained there to this day.
This is another absurd lie, akin to other fraudulent PA claims made from time to time, such as asserting that Canaanites built Solomon’s Temple and that Bedouin were the real ancient Hebrews. It is also similar in quality to Yasser Arafat’s absurd claim in a 1994 speech that Palestinian Arabs were descended from the Canaanite king Salem, a figure unknown to history. These amount to nothing less than a concerted effort, based on bare-faced falsehoods to the international community by Abbas and the PA, to appropriate and falsify Jewish history in order to deny it, while inventing an utterly fictitious, pre-Jewish Palestinian history in Jerusalem and the land of Israel.
The Balfour Declaration issued by the British Government in 1917 … by which those who did not own, giving to those who had no right. The British Government bears responsibility for the catastrophic consequences inflicted on the Palestinian people as a result.
The Balfour Declaration was made on behalf of Britain, the power that actually fought and conquered the territories of the Ottoman empire, the previous sovereign, and was one of several plans for introducing independence to both Arabs and Jews in the former Ottoman territories. Palestine, an under-populated territory with substantial Jewish and Christian minority populations, was earmarked, along with Lebanon and its majority Christian population, for non-Muslim rule in accordance with the principle of self-determination, the organizing principle of the post-First World War world, which sought to ensure that even small peoples could enjoy sovereignty.
Abbas’s insistence that Jews had no right to their sovereign state in the biblical Jewish homeland ignores the principle of self-determination, the very principle on which he demands Palestinian statehood. He also ignores that fact that the right of Jews to settle and establish their national home in Palestine was recognized by the Sharifians and the kingdom of the Hejaz, the Arab forces that contributed to the removal of Ottoman authority in the region and represented the Arab peoples at the post-war conferences which ushered in the creation of numerous Arab states. Subsequent plans for sharing Palestine and for separate states during the subsequent British Mandate (1920-1948) all failed for one reason: Palestinian Arab rejection because all these plans encompassed sharing the land with the Jews.
Our national institutions are recognized by international organizations for their merit and work, which is based on the rule of law, accountability and transparency, and empowerment of women and youth in an environment of tolerance, coexistence of civilizations and nondiscrimination.
The PA is saturated with the promotion of hatred and incitement to violence in its controlled media, mosques, schools, and youth camps. The PA has been a political Enron, absorbing the world’s largest per capita foreign aid, much of it channeled into manufacturing weaponry prohibited under the Oslo Accords and arming terrorist groups which have flourished in PA territories since the establishment of the PA in 1994. The PA has not only educated Palestinian Arab schoolchildren to seek a violent death killing Jews as the highest national and religious duty, but continues to this day, despite criticism and pressure from President Donald Trump and other leaders, to pay salaries to blood-soaked Jew-killing terrorists in Israeli jails and stipends to the families of dead terrorists.
Palestinian Arab women have been empowered — to become suicide bombers alongside men. PA terrorist groups, like the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and the Tanzim played prominent roles in the terrorist war against Israel launched by Yasser Arafat in 2000 following the failure of the Camp David peace summit. Others, like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, operated openly and without hindrance within PA-controlled territories. Eventually, the US- and EU-recognized terrorist group Hamas actually managed to seize Gaza from the PA in 2007. Rule of law, accountability and transparency are about the last things that leap to mind when reviewing the record of Abbas and the PA.
[W]e continue to strive to unite our people and land and to ensure one authority, one law, and one gun, and are determined to convene parliamentary and presidential elections … We have … been committed to fostering a culture of peace, rejection of violence, pursuit of sustainable development and the building of schools, hospitals, industrial zones, agricultural farms and technological production, as opposed to establishing weapons factories and purchasing tanks and fighter jets, for we wish for our people to live in freedom and dignity.
The PA has been divided since Hamas overthrew the Abbas- Fatah-dominated PA and seized control of Gaza in 2007. Numerous reconciliation attempts have failed while several actual reconciliation agreements since that date have proved dead letters. Abbas himself is in the thirteenth year of a five-year presidential term, having refused to call elections since 2005 while the even more extreme and genocidally-minded Hamas, which calls in its Covenant for the global murder of Jews, won parliamentary elections in 2006. PA textbooks continue to incite hatred and irredentism among Palestinian Arab schoolchildren; PA maps, atlases, and stationary pretend Israel doesn’t exist; and streets, schools, and sports teams are named in honor of blood-soaked, Jew-killing terrorists — like Dalal Mughrabi, who led the Fatah terrorists who carried out the 1978 coastal road massacre in which 38 Israelis, including 13 children, were slaughtered. Town squares, schools, and competitions have been named in Mughrabi’s honor by the PA.
We engaged with all seriousness [in peace talks] with former Secretary of State John Kerry.
This is an interesting way to describe the 2014 peace talks, of which President Obama’s chief negotiator, Martin Indyk — no fan of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his ruling Likud Party — said, “Netanyahu moved to the zone of possible agreement. I saw him sweating bullets to find a way to reach an agreement,” whereas, “We tried to get Abu Mazen [Abbas] to the zone of possible agreement but we were surprised to learn he had shut down.”
The Israeli Government’s intransigence caused the failure of all of these efforts [diplomatic initiatives and talks over the past quarter century].
In fact, Israel signed agreements and made huge concessions in the various talks Abbas specifically mentioned — the Oslo Accords, Wye River, Camp David — of assets, powers, territory, and even arms to the PA, which were later turned on Israelis. Yet, Abbas makes the audacious, dishonest claim: “After all of this, how can it be said that it is we who reject negotiations?”
Is it logical that Israel violates its obligation to implement resolutions 181 (II) and 194 (III), the implementation of which Israel’s admission to the UN was conditioned upon, as pledged in writing by its Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett [sic] at that time?
Here, Abbas tactfully fails to mention that it was the Zionist movement that accepted Resolution 181, the November 29, 1947, partition resolution, whereas the Palestinian Arab movement rejected it completely, while Resolution 194 — which speaks of the right of Palestine Arab refugees to return to Israel within the context of a proper peace settlement — was rejected by all Arab parties at the time. (Israel was not yet a U.N. member and therefore did not vote, but was opposed to several aspects of the resolution).
Israel is acting as a State above the law. It has transformed the occupation from a temporary situation as per international law into a situation of permanent settlement colonization and has imposed a one-State reality of Apartheid. It has closed all doors to realizing the two-State solution on the basis of the 1967 borders.
Israel has repeatedly agreed to peace plans (in 2000-2001, 2008) to create a Palestinian Arab state on virtually all the territories officially claimed by the PA only for the PA to refuse them without counter-offer. Israeli Arabs are full citizens of Israel while that tiny minority of Palestinian Arabs in the territories still living under Israeli jurisdiction (some 98 percent of Palestinian Arabs live under PA rule in Judea/Samaria and Hamas rule in Gaza) are treated in accordance with the applicable rules governing lawful occupation. This is the very opposite of apartheid.
This [Trump] administration has not clarified its position. Is it for the two-State solution, or for one-State? And, then, in a dangerous, unprecedented manner, this administration undertook an unlawful decision, which was rejected by the international community, to remove the issue of Jerusalem ‘off the table’ and to recognize the City as Israel’s capital and to transfer its embassy to the City.
The Trump administration has been perfectly clear in affirming that it favors any political solution which commands the support of both Israel and the PA, whether or not that involves the creation of a Palestinian Arab state. As President Trump put it in his statement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city, “We are not taking a position of any final status issues including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem or the resolution of contested borders. Those questions are up to the parties involved.”
Similarly, the Trump administration has obeyed U.S. law and not violated any international law in recognizing the obvious fact that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. To the contrary, its recognition rights a wrong, whereby even the western part of Jerusalem that falls within the 1949 armistice lines was not previously recognized as sovereign Israeli territory as it should have been. Such recognition, as President Trump and Vice President Pence have repeatedly made crystal clear, does not prejudge or predetermine the outcome of any negotiations over Jerusalem that might one day take place between the parties.
We come here before your august Council in the midst of the deadlock of the peace process due to the US decision regarding Jerusalem, Israel’s ongoing illegal settlement activities, its violation of the resolutions of this Council, and its disrespect of the signed agreements.
This is an almost complete inversion of the truth: the deadlock in negotiations did not commence with President Trump’s December 2017 announcement on Jerusalem, but it has been going since 2009 (excepting one week and two meetings that the PA attended since that date). The reason has been Abbas’s refusal to participate in any talks without preconditions. Moreover, no new or additional deadlock was occasioned by President Trump’s announcement: rather, Abbas and the PA chose to refuse all talks, indeed, even to meet American diplomats to discuss convening talks and peace proposals because of their displeasure with President Trump’s announcement. That Palestinian Arab choice does not make President Trump’s announcement any sort of cause of a deadlock.
Unsurprisingly, Abbas proposed convening an international conference aimed at establishing a Palestinian state without the PA and Palestinian Arab society undergoing any of the reforms and changes that would be necessary to secure a genuine peace into the future and then left the Security Council chamber.
This was not serious diplomacy. In fact, this amounts to the rejection of negotiations and any idea of a process of give-and-take.
Such a speech leaves open no conclusion other than Abbas’s absolute unwillingness to negotiate directly with Israel or reach any sort of agreement that does not encompass Israel’s ultimate elimination. Such an agreement will have to await a new leader and a new generation before we can have a new era.
Klein is national president of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), ZOA.org, (Twitter: @mortonaklein7)