The Palestinian president returned triumphantly to the West Bank on Sunday, receiving a boisterous welcome from thousands of cheering supporters at a rally celebrating his people’s new acceptance to the United Nations.
An Israeli decision to cut off a cash transfer to the financially troubled Palestinian Authority, following an earlier decision to build thousands of new homes in Jewish settlements, failed to put a damper on the celebrations.
But Palestinian officials acknowledged they were undecided on what to do with their newfound status, and were waiting for upcoming Israeli elections and new ideas from President Barack Obama before deciding how to proceed.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Sunday vowed to pursue efforts to end the split between the West Bank and Gaza and thanked Hamas and all Palestinian groups for supporting his statehood bid at the UN. …
“The message to us is very clear,” he said. “We are not alone. History is with us. The future belongs to us and God is with us.”
Abbas said he decided to go to the UN despite pressure and warnings from several parties. “They told us that if we go the world would explode,” he added. “They asked us to postpone the move. Finally, they told us to change our policy and project. But we remained steadfast and triumphed because the world heard the voices of our people.” …
Abbas said the Palestinians would continue their struggle until the Palestinian flag is raised over the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City and churches. He said that Jerusalem was the “eternal capital of the State of Palestine.”
Israel on Sunday roundly rejected the United Nations’ endorsement of an independent state of Palestine, announcing it would withhold more than $100 million collected for the Palestinian government to pay debts to Israeli companies.
It was the second act of reprisal since the U.N. General Assembly voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to support the Palestinians’ statehood initiative. The following day, Israel announced it would start drawing up plans to build thousands of settlement homes, including the first-ever residential developments on a sensitive piece of land near Jerusalem. Actual construction would be years away.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared the statehood campaign, led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, as “a gross violation of the agreements signed with the state of Israel.”
One hardly needs to note that the U.N.’s Israel obsession, which takes up more of its time and elicits more Human Rights council resolutions than any issue or country on the planet, comes at a time the body can’t bring itself to move against Bashar al-Assad in Syria, religious oppression of Christians in the Middle East or, goodness gracious, anything regarding the authoritarian revanchism in Georgia. Nothing to see there. Keep moving on. (This, by the way, is the “international community” in all its glory that President Obama so diligently courts.) …
Which brings us to the U.S. and Ambassador Rice. She could only persuade the Czech Republic, some Pacific island countries, Canada and Panama? That’s the extent of her diplomatic prowess? (I am certain that the Canadian government needed no convincing on this score, having frequently and courageously defended the Jewish State.)
It is unclear if the Obama administration, and Rice specifically, made any effort whatsoever to round up some “no” votes. It is quite likely the United States never communicated to Europeans and other allies (e.g. Australia) that the United States would look unfavorably on their abstentions.
Questions about repercussions are “better directed at the Congress than at us,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Friday. She said the State Department is still trying to release $495 million in pending funds for fiscal year 2012 that were held up following the Palestinians’ failed effort last year to become a full member of the U.N.
“We will also continue to try to support the Palestinian Authority, because this money supports their … ability to administer the territories, provide security, and take care of the needs of the Palestinian people, who we continue to believe need our support, need the international community’s support.”
Nor did Mr. Abbas help his cause by accusing Israel of “ethnic cleansing,” “an apartheid system of colonial occupation,” “the plague of racism,” and more. That kind of talk may work with the usual suspects at Turtle Bay who gave Mr. Abbas a standing ovation. But Israelis who spent recent days in bomb shelters while Iranian-built missiles were fired at them from Gaza probably weren’t cheering. Theirs is the say that matters if a Palestinian state is ever to come into being.
Those Israelis won’t be reassured by the lopsided 138-9 margin of Thursday’s vote, with 41 abstentions. In effect, the General Assembly voted to violate the 1993 Oslo Accords, which are the legal basis for Mr. Abbas’s Palestinian Authority and require negotiations with Israel to create a state. When the world next asks Jerusalem to take “risks for peace,” Israelis will know that countries such as France (which voted for the resolution) and Germany (which abstained) will not have their backs.
It will be interesting to see if the Palestinians now use their new U.N. status to harass Israelis in venues such as the International Criminal Court. Such tactics are aimed at making everyday life increasingly unbearable for Israelis, ostensibly to force their hand on accepting a Palestinian state. Our guess is that it will have the opposite effect.