In a fiery, no holds barred speech on September 23, 2011 to the United Nations General Assembly, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas presented Palestine’s formal application for full membership to the United Nations. Although he was speaking on the first day of fall, Abbas proclaimed that the “Palestinian Spring” had arrived, which he repeated to cheering crowds welcoming him home Sunday in the West Bank.
Holding up a copy of his letter requesting full UN membership, Abbas declared to the General Assembly:
The time has come for my courageous and proud people after decades of displacement and colonial occupation and ceaseless suffering to live like other peoples of the earth free in a sovereign and independent homeland. Mr. President, I would like to inform you that before delivering this statement I, in my capacity as president of the state of Palestine, and chairman of the executive committee of Palestine Liberalization Organization, submitted to his excellency Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations an application for the admission of Palestine on the basis of the borders of June 4, 1967 with al Quds al Sharif [Jerusalem] as its capital as a full member of the United Nations. This is a copy of the application.
Abbas received a rousing hero’s welcome as he stepped up to the same podium where the PLO terrorist Yasser Arafat had received a rousing welcome in 1974.
Abbas also received a standing ovation at the conclusion of his speech, as raucous cheers erupted from the gallery, where minutes before, a rambunctious standee got into a violent clash with UN security guards.
Little has changed at the United Nations between the Arafat and Abbas General Assembly speeches. As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put it during his own speech to the General Assembly following Abbas’s speech, the United Nations has become both a “house of lies” and a “theater of the absurd” in its obsession to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state and to falsify the history of the Palestinians’ own self-inflicted wounds.
“Twenty-one out of the 27 General Assembly resolutions condemn Israel – the one true democracy in the Middle East,” said Netanyahu. “Well, this is an unfortunate part of the U.N. institution. It’s the – the theater of the absurd. It doesn’t only cast Israel as the villain; it often casts real villains in leading roles.”
Netanyahu’s speech did not receive the wild applause that Abbas’s speech had received just an hour or so before from Abbas’s fawning listeners. But, as the Israeli prime minister said, he was not aiming for applause lines. “Today I hope that the light of truth will shine, if only for a few minutes, in a hall that for too long has been a place of darkness for my country,” Netanyahu told his listeners. “So as Israel’s prime minister, I didn’t come here to win applause. I came here to speak the truth.”
Abbas, on the other hand, came to the United Nations to embed his lies even deeper into the fabric of the UN by using them as a foundation for pushing the Palestinians’ bid for full UN membership. “I do not believe that anyone with a shred of conscience can reject our application for a full membership in the United Nations and our admission as an independent state,” he shamelessly declared.
The truth is, however, that no one with “a shred of conscience” should have submitted an application for full membership in the United Nations as an independent state in the first place, while at the same time boasting of having aligned himself with the terrorist organization Hamas in a “reconciliation” government that would rule the new state.
Article 4 of the United Nations Charter states that membership is “open to all other peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter.” Article 2 (4) of the UN Charter states that “all Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.”
Abbas’s partner in a future new government, Hamas, has pledged in its own death-to-the-Jews charter – a pledge repeated by its leaders to this day – to destroy the UN member state of Israel. Yet in the “Declaration of the State of Palestine,” signed by Abbas in his self-anointed capacity of “President of the State of Palestine” and included in the UN membership application material, Abbas “solemnly” declared that “the State of Palestine is a peace-loving nation and that it accepts the obligations contained in the Charter of the United Nations and solemnly undertakes to fulfill them.”
Abbas’s declaration is neither solemn nor truthful. His application for membership in the UN cannot be accepted by anyone with “a shred of conscience” or a “shred” of familiarity with the United Nations Charter’s most fundamental of membership qualifications. However, instead of performing his duty to question the truthfulness of the application in light of the Hamas-Abbas partnership, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon immediately passed along Abbas’s application to the current president of the UN Security Council, the UN representative of the Hezbollah-dominated government of Lebanon. A closed-door Security Council consultation on the application was scheduled by Abbas’s Lebanese ally for September 26th.
In his General Assembly speech, Abbas blamed the failure to reach peace with the Israelis entirely on the “occupying power,” particularly on Israel’s settlement policy. He tried to portray a Palestinian leadership that had extended its hand in peace to Israel, only to have it cut off by the nasty Israeli “colonialists.”
Netanyahu responded that Israel had repeatedly offered the Palestinians virtually all of the territory they were seeking in the West Bank, but Israel was consistently rebuffed. He pointed out that the Palestinian negotiators had no interest in listening to Israel’s genuine security concerns. “The truth is that Israel wants peace with a Palestinian state, but the Palestinians want a state without peace,” said Netanyahu.
The core problem is not the settlements, Netanyahu argued. In an effort to compensate for the amnesia pervading the General Assembly audience that had so loudly cheered Abbas, Netanyahu observed that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had raged “for nearly half a century before there was a single Israeli settlement in the West Bank … The core of the conflict is not the settlements. The settlements are a result of the conflict.”
With history unambiguously on his side, Netanyahu made the case that the fundamental cause of the conflict was the Palestinians’ refusal, going back to Israeli independence in 1948, to “recognize a Jewish state” within any borders at all.
Abbas confirmed the correctness of Netanyahu’s diagnosis of the root cause of the conflict when the Palestinian leader referred in his speech to the original UN-approved creation of Israel within the pre-1967 lines as “al-Nakba” – “the catastrophe.” Abbas had also demonstrated his true feelings a few days earlier when he said that Israel has been occupying Palestinian land for 63 years. “He didn’t say from 1967; he said from 1948,” Netanyahu remarked.
Abbas Zaki, a Central Committee member of Abbas’s Fatah Party, filled in the blanks of Abbas’s General Assembly speech with the Palestinians’ true intentions during an interview that aired the same day on the Al-Jazeera network. “The settlement should be based upon the borders of June 4, 1967,” said Abbas Zaki. “When we say that the settlement should be based upon these borders, President [Abbas] understands, we understand, and everybody knows that the greater goal cannot be accomplished in one go.”
Abbas continues the Palestinian refusal to acknowledge the Jews’ right to a Jewish state in their historic homeland. He reflects the same rejectionism that led to the warning given by the secretary general of the Arab League, Azzam Pasha, to Abba Eban on the eve of the UN’s original 1947 partition resolution: “The Arab world regards the Jews as invaders. It is going to fight you.”
Ironically, Abbas’s application to the UN for full membership refers several times to the UN’s November 21, 1947 partition General Assembly Resolution 181 as one of the primary legal bases for its application. Yet that resolution itself refers to “the territory of the Jewish State,” “Independent Arab and Jewish States,” and “the establishment of the independence of the Arab and Jewish States.” Part II of the resolution, which Abbas’s application referenced specifically as establishing the “right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and independence and the vision of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” contains separate sections describing the boundaries of an Arab state and of a Jewish state.
The two-faced Abbas has no problem citing Resolution 181 in order to justify obtaining his half of the partition resolution’s peace formula, which the Arabs had rejected at the time – an independent Arab state. But he refuses to acknowledge and accept the other part of the original two-state solution, a Jewish state.
The Arabs launched their first failed war of aggression to destroy the Jewish state immediately after its birth. More military attacks and campaigns of terrorism have not succeeded in dislodging the Jewish “invaders” in the Middle East, who Muslims believe are anathema in a part of the world they regard as Dar al-Islam (the abode of Islam). Abbas is simply seeking the same end through different means – the manipulation of the instrumentalities of the United Nations to delegitimize the Jewish state of Israel. At the same time, his partner in a would-be Palestinian state continues its campaign of terror against Israeli civilians.
In 2009, during a speech in Ramallah, Abbas said: “A Jewish state, what is that supposed to mean? You can call yourselves as you like, but I don’t accept it and I say so publicly.” In June 2011, he declared once again during an interview that “we refuse to recognize a Jewish state.”
And Abbas was at it yet again on his most recent jaunt to the United States to deliver his speech to the General Assembly. “They talk to us about the Jewish state, but I respond to them with a final answer: We shall not recognize a Jewish state,” Abbas said in a meeting with some 200 senior representatives of the Palestinian community in the U.S. shortly before his speech.
In contrast, Israel does not object to the Palestinians living in their own Muslim state under Islamic law if they wish, so long as they do so peacefully and leave the Jews of the state of Israel alone. Whether that could ever be possible, given Islamic law’s emphasis on jihad, is doubtful, however.
Abbas wants to flood pre-1967 Israel with millions of Palestinian refugees who would destroy the Jewish character of Israel. At the same time, Abbas and his deputies have insisted that there will be no room for Jews in a Palestinian state when it is established, including within the sector of Jerusalem containing Judaism’s holiest sites, which Abbas wants to control.
Unlike the Palestinians’ pledge to make their new state Jew-free in a form of ethnic cleansing, the Israeli government has pledged to continue to protect the rights of the more than 1 million Arab citizens of Israel.
“There are…those that believe that we are not wanted in the Middle East,” Abbas whined to the General Assembly. But in reality, Abbas, his Hamas partners and other Arab-Muslim racists are the ones who don’t want any Jews to live freely anywhere in the Middle East.
Abbas also told the General Assembly that the Palestinians were armed with only their hopes and dreams. But Netanyahu reminded the General Assembly that, after Israel had taken enormous risks for peace by withdrawing unilaterally from Gaza, those “hopes and dreams for peace” had become an even greater mirage.
“Yeah, hopes and dreams and 10,000 missiles and Grad rockets supplied by Iran, not to mention the river of lethal weapons now flowing into Gaza from the Sinai, from Libya, and from elsewhere,” Netanyahu said, referring to the vast arsenal of weapons supplied by Iran-backed Hamas in Gaza and fired at Israeli civilians. “Thousands of missiles have already rained down on our cities. So you might understand that, given all this, Israelis rightly ask: What’s to prevent this from happening again in the West Bank?”
After Abbas finished his speech, histrionics and all, announcing his UN membership application, he exited stage left. He left town rather than take up Netanyahu’s offer, while they were both still in the same UN building in New York, to “meet here today in the United Nations.”
What is likely to happen to Abbas’s application, now that it has been filed with the Security Council? While the United States has threatened to veto a Security Council resolution approving the application for referral to the General Assembly, a veto may not even be necessary. It is unclear whether the Palestinians have been able to line up the nine-vote majority on the council in favor of their application that would force the U.S. to exercise its veto in order to stop the Security Council resolution in its tracks. More likely, the application will be referred to some sort of committee for study and a recommendation, which could take weeks or months to complete.
In the interim, the Palestinians would be likely to seek an upgrade to non-member observer state status directly from the General Assembly. However, now that the Security Council has jurisdiction over the Palestinian statehood matter, Article 12 of the UN Charter would appear to preclude the General Assembly from making any recommendation with regard to the entire statehood situation “unless the Security Council so requests.” The fix may be in, however, to allow such an intermediate step by the General Assembly while the Security Council takes its time to deliberate on full UN membership.
At the end of the day, all that the UN can give the Palestinians is a fantasy state. Instead of advancing negotiations with the Israelis towards a genuine and lasting peaceful two-state solution, Abbas chose the puerile route of lies, tantrums and theater, encouraged by his enablers at the United Nations.