JONATHAN TOBIN — COMMENTARY—
The media is already treating the dueling speeches today at the United Nations General Assembly by Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as morally equivalent. But such a view of these addresses would be dead wrong.
To put it bluntly, Abbas lied, and Netanyahu told the truth.
Abbas based his claim for the United Nations to allow him to bypass negotiations and to get a state without first making peace with Israel on the notion Israel’s presence in the West Bank and Jerusalem is “the last occupation.” That would be news to the Kurds and a host of other ethnic groups large and small throughout the globe who have suffered as much if not more than the Palestinians, but who have never been considered worthy of an independent state by the international community.
Assuming the mantle of victimhood that has been a staple of Arab diplomacy, Abbas claimed the Palestinians came to the United Nations asking for a state armed only with “hopes and dreams.” But to accept this you have to ignore the fact an independent Palestinian state already exists in Gaza, albeit ruled by Hamas terrorist groups. As Netanyahu later replied, the Palestinians had come with “Hopes, dreams — and 10,000 missiles and Grad rockets supplied by Iran.”
Some journalists commenting on the speeches immediately claimed there was no difference between Abbas’ baseless claims of Israeli racism and Netanyahu’s noting the Palestinians intend their state to be free of Jews. But these claims are not equal. Israel is a democracy in which its Arab minority can claim full rights of citizenship. Yet Abbas himself has said peace must mean every town and village in the West Bank as well as neighborhoods in Jerusalem where Jews live over the green line must be eradicated. That means Netanyahu’s claim Palestine would be “Judenrein” and his mentioning of the fact the Palestinians have laws prohibiting the sale of land to Jews (a crime punishable by death) are not slurs but accurate reflections of the Nazi-like hate that permeates the PA.
Abbas said the peace process had “shattered on the rock” of Israeli settlements, as if the presence of Jewish towns and villages in the West Bank in what is the heart of the historic homeland of the Jews is the cause of the conflict. But as Netanyahu later pointed out, Abbas, who has spoken in the past about “63 years” of Israel “occupying Palestinian land,” that ignores the fact the conflict between Jews and Arabs was raging for half a century before the Six-Day War in 1967 when Israel came into the possession of the West Bank.
The Israeli cut to the heart of the problem when he concluded by asking why Abbas had spent the last three years doing his best to evade peace negotiations. If his true intent was merely to create a Palestinian state, he could have had one before Netanyahu took office in 2008. Ehud Olmert, Netanyahu’s predecessor, offered Abbas such a state in almost all of the West Bank, Gaza and a share of Jerusalem. But Abbas walked away from that offer just as his predecessor Yasir Arafat walked away from the state he was offered by Ehud Barak in 2000 and 2001.
That is why this UN circus initiated by the Palestinian leader is nothing more than a charade intended to bolster his standing at home and to avoid the necessity of engaging in U.S.-sponsored peace talks with Israel. The Palestinians don’t want to negotiate; they want the world to impose a dictat on Israel that will not guarantee the security or the rights of the Jewish state or even to agree to finally end the conflict.
Abbas could have, as Netanyahu suggested, met with the Israeli today in New York if he wanted. But the Palestinian has no interest in such talks or in peace if it means he will have to give up the right of Arab refugees to swamp it. One needn’t be a partisan of Netanyahu’s to understand there is no moral equivalence between their respective positions. One man lied, and the other told the truth.