Abbas disappointing UN speech is for internal consumption as poll shows Palestinians want him to resign

Mahmoud Abbas speaks at the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 30, 2015, in New York City.Mahmoud Abbas speaks at the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 30, 2015, in New York City.

By Yossi Lempkowicz

In his disappointing speech at the UN General Assembly, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas did not announce his resignation or the dismantlement of the Palestinian Authority, as many predicted he would do. Such a move would have been considered a real bombshell.

Instead, he repeated his old threat to abandon signed accords with Israel, including the 1993 Oslo Accords,  “as long as Israel refuses to commit to the agreements with us.”

His assertion that the Palestinians “cannot continue to be bound by these agreements” is perhaps the only dramatic statement he made in his speech. But again, this should be seen as nothing but another threat, not the bombshell that Abbas promised a few weeks ago.
His fiery anti-Israel rhetoric, especially concerning the holy sites in Jerusalem and settler violence, are mostly intended for internal consumption. The charges he made against Israel are designed to appease his critics and other Palestinians who are skeptical of his intentions and policies.

A new recent poll shows that a majority of Palestinians want Abbas to resign and dissolve his self-rule government. “The mood in the West Bank is explosive, with anger mounting over Palestinian Authority mismanagement,” said Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki.

“For now, it’s clear that Abbas’s speech is not going to change anything on the ground. Abbas is going nowhere, and so is the Palestinian Authority,” writes The Jerusalem Post.

Israel for its part renewed its call for direct talks. “We expect and call on the Palestinian Authority and its leader to act responsibly and accede to the proposal of the Prime Minister of Israel and enter into direct negotiations with Israel without preconditions,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office as the Israeli Prime Minister is expected to address the UNGA on Thursday.

The opposition in Israel also reacted with disappointment to the Palestinian leader’s speech.

Zionist leader Isaac Herzog said statements by Abbas accusing Israel of “apartheid” were twisted and served only the extremists in both nations.

“The Israelis and Palestinians deserve hope and normal lives,” Herzog said. “Abbas and Netanyahu are leaders who are afraid of making decisions and prefer slogans and mutual recriminations, while leaving our future hanging in the wind. Instead of taking advantage of a rare chance for creating alliances with moderate countries who want to partner against Islamic terror, they are drowning in their own useless rhetoric.”

Herzog’s colleague Tzipi Livini said “speeches, accusations and flags will not create a Palestinian State, only direct negotiations with Israel.”

“The time has come for the Palestinian leadership to realize that a Palestinian state can only arise through agreements that guarantee Israeli security. Attempts to get the international community to force Israel to make concessions that will harm Israel’s interests will not succeed and are doomed to failure.”

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid accused Abbas of uttering “terrible words of incitement.”

“Maybe it comes from frustration, but it is frustration of their own doing,” Lapid said.

According to Barry Shaw, Senior Associate for Public Diplomacy at the Israeli Institute for Strategic Studies, Abbas made three false claims in New York.

“He blamed Israel for ongoing tensions on the Temple Mount, when the violent riots were, in reality, perpetrated by Palestinian Muslims; they have been desecrating their own mosques by wrecking the furniture and using it for barricades to hide behind, while hurling rocks, firebombs and other missiles at non-Muslims on the Mount,” he writes.

“Abbas also accused Israel of not reviving peace negotiations when it was Abbas himself who continually stalled and walked away from consecutive Israeli Prime Ministers and declined to respond to repeated pleas by Israel’s current Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to meet with him “anytime, anywhere.”

Netanyahu in fact, invited Abbas to meet him while they were both in New York this week. The invitation was again declined.

Israel’s alleged failure to implement agreements with the Palestinians.”Ironically, it is only the constant protection by Israel’s security forces that is keeping Abbas alive while rivals from Hamas and defectors from his own party attempt to kill him and take over the territories under his control,” says Shaw.

The fact is that Israel did unilaterally withdraw from the Gaza Strip in 2005. Since then, a terror group, Hamas,  has taken over control of the coastal enclave, leading to thousands of rockets being launched at the Jewish state.

The latest such rocket was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system over the Israeli city of Ashdod on Wednesday. Israeli officials have expressed concern that a similar situation could arise in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) should Israel withdraw from that region completely.