Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s speech on Sunday at the Palestinian Central Council is deeply troubling. Denying the Jewish link to Israel, and trafficking in conspiracy theories claiming Israel is importing drugs to the Occupied Territories, are both utterly unacceptable. Similarly, the Central Council’s threat to withdraw Palestinian recognition of Israel is a regressive move, taking both sides further from a political resolution to the conflict.
It is important to remember how we got here. The hopelessness on display in the Palestinian territories – which has been widely documented in opinion polling and is now finding political expression through President Abbas – has at its core an entrenched, 50-year old Israeli military occupation and now a U.S. President who thinks he can “take Jerusalem off the table” and provide formal recognition of the disenfranchisement of the nearly 40% of Jerusalemites who are Palestinian.
In the past few weeks, we have seen repeated calls from within Israel’s governing parties for formal annexation of at least part of the West Bank. Education Minister and Jewish Home Party leader Naftali Bennett responded to Abbas’s speech by calling for “the end of the era of the Palestinian state, and the beginning of the era of [Israeli] sovereignty [over the West Bank].” The path this leads us down is disastrous.
During his speech yesterday, President Abbas also reiterated that his aim is a “Palestinian State in the ’67 borders with a capital in East Jerusalem and the implementation of decisions by the international community”. A political resolution to the conflict along those lines is the only way for Israel to survive as a strong, secure, democratic state, and for the Palestinians to finally achieve self-determination and independence. President Abbas’s other comments may be a step away from that goal.
Read more about Abbas’s speech here: http://bit.ly/2mHtCEI