(September 15, 2022 / JNS)
The 77th session of the UN General Assembly opens this week. It is expected that the Palestinian Authority’s President Mahmoud Abbas will once again force the Palestinian question to the forefront of the international agenda.
There has been a decline in interest in the Palestinian issue in recent years, perhaps due to the success of the Abraham Accords. The accords changed the decades-old paradigm where it was considered impossible for Israel to make peace with any additional Arab countries before the Palestinian issue was resolved. Instead, the Abraham Accords showed that notwithstanding the ongoing conflict, a strong and welcome peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors is possible.
After a failed attempt 11 years ago, it seems that Abbas feels the time is ripe to revive the bid to become a full member state of the UN.
On such occasions, Abbas’s track record of support for terror is either ignored or forgotten. The man who is due to speak at the United Nations in front of the world has supported terror attacks on innocent Israeli civilians.
Even more abhorrent is that at a press conference in Germany last month, Abbas refused to denounce the 1972 Munich massacre where 11 Israeli athletes and coaches were murdered. Disgracefully, he accepted no responsibility for the attack and instead diverted the discourse to the “50 holocausts” that Israel is supposed to have committed—a false, slanderous and disgraceful assertion. The German chancellor condemned Abbas’s comments unequivocally and said he was “disgusted by the outrageous remarks.”
This is the man with whom we are dealing. Abbas continues to be welcomed into the world’s capital cities while simultaneously leading a body that pays the salaries of convicted murderers who carry out terror attacks on innocent Israeli civilians. This pay-to-slay policy promotes and rewards violence; a murderer is paid around five times more than the average salary, and the more Jews murdered the greater the remuneration.
What’s even more galling is that the murderers are celebrated as heroes, with sweets being handed out at street parades, while PA institutions including schools, streets and youth camps are named after these terrorists-turned-heroes. Abbas has never been held accountable by the international community for incentivizing this sickening culture of terrorism.
This is the man who will stand before the world on the United Nations podium.
To succeed in his bid for statehood, Abbas needs to be able to generate the support of a majority of the members of the General Assembly, followed by the backing of nine out of 15 members of the Security Council. Even if he gets this far it is near certain that the US will veto the proposal.
In the very likely scenario that Abbas does fail, he will, unfortunately, still have succeeded in other respects. He will have triumphed in the promotion of a fraudulent cause, in once more bringing Israel’s reputation into disrepute, and he may even be able to extract compensation from the U.S. as a “sweetener” should Washington decide to veto his demand.
This form of compensation usually demands concessions from Israel that ultimately harm its security. When President Joe Biden visited Israel in May, for instance, many such unfavorable concessions were made by Israel’s interim government, for example, legalizing Palestinian building on Israeli-owned land in Judea and Samaria and enabling 4G communication networks considered problematic from a security standpoint.
Likewise, in 2012, after Abbas’s initial failed attempt at statehood, he was granted such a sweetener by the UN itself, and the PA became a non-member observer state. Although symbolic in nature, this act has in fact had damaging consequences for Israel as the PA consistently seeks to tarnish Israel’s name in diplomatic and public forums, despite its pledge in 2012 not to do so.
My time at the United Nations as Israel’s ambassador taught me many lessons. One of the most significant is that despite the seemingly innocent nature of “symbolic” gestures or debates, they can be exceptionally dangerous. This particular symbolic gesture led to the PA joining scores of conventions and treaties that it would not otherwise have been able to take part in. What’s worse is that instead of promoting its own interests, the PA uses the UN as a platform to further thwart Israel’s foreign relations by consistently demonizing us with false and misleading propaganda.
The PA representative to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, claims that PA access to UN membership will “help Israel by waking up its leaders to hold negotiations.” However, by going via the United Nations, the PA is in fact trying to circumvent the direct negotiations with Israel it claims to seek and get what it wants through the international arena. Riyad Mansour needs to be made aware there are no shortcuts, and that direct talks with Israel are the only way to move forward.
What’s more, I would recommend that Mr. Mansour read the history books and remind himself that it is the PA that has time and again rejected peace in favor of war, and friendship in favor of terror.
He may also wish to explore the success of the Abraham Accords, which demonstrate that Israel is clearly a viable peace partner. Israel is able to attain peace with countries that actively seek it and which aspire to true collaboration. Peace first with Egypt and Jordan, and most recently under the accords with the UAE, Morocco, Bahrain and Sudan. Mr. Mansour might consider that perhaps it is the PA that is not a realistic peace partner and which is without a peace-aspiring leader at its helm.
There cannot be any sort of resolution or diplomatic solution with an organization that seeks the destruction of a sovereign nation, which pays terrorists to commit murder and which is headed by a dictator who glorifies and celebrates acts of terror and encourages people to do the same.
No sane state would approve of such a partnership. It is time for the international community to end its appeasement of the PA regime and its support of terror. Appeasement will never bring about a solution. It will only create an ongoing spiral of problems as we continue to give the PA, through Abbas, the power to pursue its barbarous path. It is to the peril of the international community that it turns a blind eye to this evil.
Ambassador Danny Danon served as Israel’s 17th permanent representative to the United Nations. He is currently chairman of World Likud. His recently published book, “In the Lion’s Den: Israel and the World,” is now available.
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