Until Mahmoud Abbas delivered his speech at the UN General Assembly on September 23, 2011, there was some mystery about the Palestinian state applying for UN membership. Abbas did not proclaim statehood before his UN bid, so how could a state that was not proclaimed apply for membership? Abbas provided the answer to that question: the Palestinian state applying for membership was the one proclaimed by Arafat in Alger on November 15, 1988.
The proclamation of the “State of Palestine” in Alger did not specify its borders; it did not designate the former armistice lines between Israel and Jordan (often and wrongly called today “1967 borders”) as the borders of the proclaimed state. Rather, the proclamation spoke of a “State of Palestine on our Palestinian territory with its capital Jerusalem.” The proclamation’s reference to the 1947 Partition Plan might have been interpreted as a de facto acceptation of the Plan’s suggested (and moot) separation lines as the borders of the Palestinian state. Aware of this ambiguity, Arafat’s deputy, Salah Khalaf, declared in his keynote closed-session speech on November 14, 1988 that “at first [the Palestinian state] will be small … God willing, it will expand eastward, westward, northward and southward … I am interested in the liberation of Palestine, but step by step.”
On the very day Abbas delivered his speech at the UN on September 23, one of his deputies, Fatah Central Committee members Abbas Zaki, declared on Al-Jazeera that “the greater goal cannot be accomplished in one go … If Israel withdraws from Jerusalem, evacuates the 650,000 settlers and dismantles the wall, what will become of Israel? It will come to an end. If we say that we want to wipe Israel out, it’s not acceptable to say so. Don’t say these things to the world. Keep it to yourself.” Unfortunately for Abbas Zaki, it is hard to keep things to yourself at the age of the Internet, especially after you’ve admitted your true intentions on TV.
In his speech to the General Assembly, Mahmoud Abbas declared that “The goal of the
Palestinian people is the realization of their inalienable national rights in their independent State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, on all the land of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.” On the face of it, the borders of the Palestinian state claimed by Abbas, “only” encompass the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Gaza. But the Palestinian state envisioned by Abbas will emerge next to a Jewish state that will cease to be Jewish through the implementation of the “right of return.”
For, as Abbas said in his speech, there must be a “just and agreed upon solution to the Palestine refugee issue in accordance with resolution 194” and “the time has come to end the suffering and the plight of millions of Palestine refugees in the homeland and the Diaspora, to end their displacement and to realize their rights.” The refugees “in the homeland” are the ones in the West Bank and Gaza, and what Abbas means by putting an end to their “suffering and plight” is having their descendants becoming citizens of pre-1967 Israel. The Palestinians mistakenly interpret UN General Assembly Resolution 194 as granting them a “right of return” to Israel, and Abbas explicitly referred to that resolution. So the “two-state solution” means two Arab states: a Judenrein Palestinian state, and an Arab-dominated State of Israel. “Step by step” as Khalaf said. And “keep it to yourself” as Zaki advised.
On the week of the UN speeches, I spoke almost daily on radio and TV. One of my radio debates was on France Culture, France’s highbrow radio. During that debate, I made the obvious point that the Palestinian definition of the “right of return” is incompatible with the two-state solution. While the panelists couldn’t argue with that, one of them came out with a “solution.” Huda Al Iman, who teaches International Relations at Al-Quds University, reassured me: don’t worry, she said, the “right of return” will be implemented in phases and not in one shot.
When I mentioned the plight of the 900,000 Jewish refugees expelled from Arab and Muslim countries after Israel’s independence, another panelist, Al-Quds University law professor Anwar Abu Eisheh, came up with an interesting answer. In 1974, he said, the PLO “decided” that Jewish refugees from Arab and Muslim lands should be allowed to come back to their countries of origin –which, means that Oriental Israelis (and their offspring) should settle in Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, and Libya. Abu Eisheh is at least soft-spoken –unlike PLO spokesman Mahmoud Labadi who yelled at me during a debate on Voice of America: “Go back to Morocco!”
To their credit, my co-panelists were being honest: they admitted that their goal is to progressively undo Israel via demography (Jewish “return” to Arab lands, and Arab “return” to Israel). Mahmoud Abbas, by contrast, cannot be so candid about his true intentions without being dismissed by Western leaders (Remember: “Don’t say these things to the world”). In order for his ultimate goal to gain legitimacy in the free world, Abbas sells a narrative that presents the Palestinians as helpless victims, and whose only aspiration is to achieve justice by peaceful means. And, indeed, Abbas’ UN speech was a paragon of hypocrisy.
The hypocrisy started right at the beginning of the speech when Abbas congratulated South Sudan for its newly acquired independence. Two month before his speech, Abbas delivered a letter to Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir (a man accused of genocide and of crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court) to express his opposition to South Sudan’s independence. Abbas’ state media described South Sudan’s independence as an Israeli plot to weaken the Arab world.
Abbas said that negotiations with Israel “broke down” without mentioning the fact that he had refused to negotiate with Israel despite the 10 month settlement freeze which he demanded as a precondition for negotiations. Abbas claimed that “the occupying Power also continues to undertake excavations that threaten our holy places,” but the truth is that Israel is the only country in the Middle East that preserves the integrity of other religions’ holy places, while the PA has vandalized Jewish antiquities on the Temple Mount since 1996 and has desecrated two Jewish religious sites that fell under its control (Joseph’s tomb in Nablus and the antique Jericho synagogue).
Abbas mentioned Arafat’s speech at the UN in 1974, claiming that this speech had been about the “pursuit of peace.” Ah yes. This is what Arafat said in his speech: “Zionism is an ideology that is imperialist, colonialist, racist; it is profoundly reactionary and discriminatory … The General Assembly partitioned what it had no right to divide — an indivisible homeland.” He called upon the establishment of a state of Palestine, not next to Israel but instead of it.
Abbas called the PLO “the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people,” yet Hamas won the 2006 elections in the Palestinian Authority and is in full control of Gaza. Abbas said that the Palestinians will continue their “peaceful resistance” –a “peaceful resistance” of terrorist attacks that have claimed the life of thousands of Israelis. He said that the Palestinians are “armed only with their dreams” without mentioning the thousands of missiles pointed at Israel from Gaza, as well as the heavy weapons that have been illegally introduced to the West Bank since 1995. Abbas claimed, with a straight face, that his decision to unilaterally achieve statehood at the UN without a peace agreement with Israel “is a confirmation that we do not undertake unilateral steps.” He asserted that Israel’s partial presence in the West Bank “is the only occupation in the world” while, in truth, there are dozens of occupations in the world, including the occupation of Tibet by China, the occupation of Cyprus by Turkey, or the occupation of Western Sahara by Morocco.
If Abbas’ case was strong, he would not rely on so long a list of distortions. His ability to convince will be determined by the number of people who buy into his falsifications. And like his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas can count on a faithful ally: France’s state television France 2.
On September 30, 2000, France 2 broadcast a tragic scene that was almost certainly staged and faked: the “murder” of Muhammad al Dura by “the Jews.” The images, shot by Palestinian cameraman Talal Abu Rahmah and irresponsibly broadcast without due diligence by France 2’s Israel correspondent Charles Enderlin, became a major trigger of the “second Intifada.” Violence in Gaza and the West Bank erupted accompanied by the cries “revenge for the blood of Mohamed al Durah!” Daniel Pearl was beheaded with a picture of Mohamed al Dura behind him and with pictures of the scene spliced into the slitting of his throat.
Eleven years later, France 2 is once again signing up for the Palestinian cause –this time by actively taking part in Abbas’ propaganda. On October 3, 2011, France 2 broadcast a special report on “Palestine.” In a nutshell, it goes like this. The 1947 UN Partition Plan didn’t work out and both parties are to be blamed for it; the PA government in the West Bank is the Switzerland of the Middle East; as for Gaza, all Hamas wants is peace and whenever rockets are shot at Israel, it is only and always in retaliation to Israeli unprovoked attacks and aggressions; Israel steals the Palestinians’ water and in the Jordan Valley it turned a green land into a desert; Jewish “settlers” first came to Hebron in 1968 and since then they terrorize helpless Palestinians; the Palestinians’ “resistance” is always peaceful and harmless; the only reason why Israel still enjoys US support is because of AIPAC’s money, threats and control of US politicians and media; the 7 millions descendants of Palestinian refugees from 1948 cannot and should not be integrated in their host countries (such as Lebanon) and they have the right to return to Israel.
The scenario of France 2’s special report could have been written by Mahmoud Abbas himself. Its effects will probably not be as dramatic as those of the al Dura hoax. But the third Intifada –an Intifada of lies and propaganda- has been launched, and France 2 is once again giving it a hand.