Abbas’ opposition to a peace deal is not a tactical whim, but a fundamentally strategic and ideological approach.
The argument over whether the present wave of Palestinian terror is another intifada or not is pointless and unnecessary; it is not the name that determines the objective, which is singular — to negate the right of the Jews to live in peace in their country. Denying the existence of the Jewish nation is one of the building blocks of Arab anti-Semitism, which refuses to recognize the Jews’ right to a state, particularly of course in Palestine.
This approach has been a running theme, beginning with the Arab uprisings of 1921, 1929 and 1936, to rejecting the U.N. Partition Plan in 1947, through the intifadas and terror of today. In 1948 the Arab side intended not only to defeat the Jewish state, but to uproot, once and for all, the very idea of Jewish nationalism.
The opposition by Mahmoud Abbas and his cohort to a peace agreement based among other things on recognition of the Jewish national home, or in other words the right of the Jews to a state, is not a tactical whim, rather a fundamentally strategic and ideological approach. The goal of the terror war being waged across the country – and it is a war, one in which the streets of Israel’s cities are the battlefield – is the same goal held by Jerusalem Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, his student Yasser Arafat, and Abbas as well (and of course Hamas and other Islamist groups): the removal of the Jews from their country. In this war there is no high command and there are no battle orders, instead there are online social networks and an atmosphere of support or, at the very least acceptance, fostered by the Palestinian Authority and Islamic elements inside Israel. Any Palestinian teenage boy or girl wielding a knife against a Jew, pelting him with rocks, or trying to run him over with a car, is deemed a “soldier” in this war against the Jewish nation.
The goal of the terror war being waged across the country – and it is a war, one in which the streets of Israel’s cities are the battlefield – is the same goal held by Jerusalem Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, his student Yasser Arafat, and Abbas as well (and of course Hamas and other Islamist groups): the removal of the Jews from their country.
Our American friends continue to dance at both weddings: Secretary of State John Kerry is demanding that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “moderate his language,” while White House spokesman Josh Earnest is calling on “both sides to avoid provocative actions and rhetoric.” With that, even within administration circles some are beginning to understand that neither the settlements, nor Al-Aqsa for that matter, are the reason for the failure to secure peace or calm; rather the Palestinian refusal to come to terms with the permanent existence of the State of Israel. This is not, however, the majority view within the administration, and the well-intentioned Kerry will certainly seek to renew his efforts to mediate between the sides, efforts that will undoubtedly be for naught just like last time.
President Barack Obama, meanwhile, despite not wanting to sully his foreign policy legacy (the Iran nuclear deal) with another failure on the Palestinian front, could pursue a resolution at the U.N. Security Council, toward the end of his presidency, to ultimately establish a Palestinian state within the Green Line (although without a target date, which the French have mentioned in their proposal). Indeed, this would be in contradiction to U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, which does not require a complete Israeli withdrawal from all the territories. Such a resolution would allow Obama to depart with a sense of accomplishment, even though no efforts to actually implement the resolution would ever be made during his remaining time in office.
Preventing this type of resolution is now the primary task of Israeli diplomacy, not just because it renders any future negotiations between the sides moot, but because the U.S. has a tradition of diplomatic continuity — not legally binding, but for practical purposes. It is therefore reasonable to assume that the next administration, whether Democrat or Republican, will not completely abandon its predecessors’ initiatives.