One year after the Palestinians’ high-profile failure to win United Nations membership through the Security Council, they are returning to the General Assembly next week seeking largely symbolic “nonmember state” status, with a subdued campaign that many analysts see as a long-shot effort to win back the waning attention of the world.In 2009, the PLO told frustrated American negotiators that their stance has changed and that they will stop negotiating with Israel without a freeze on all Jewish activity in the territories - a drastic change from before.
The delegation heading to New York this weekend is half the size of last year’s. And there are no concerts or street parties planned this time around President Mahmoud Abbas’s Sept. 27 speech to the General Assembly; instead, it comes after days of unrest across the West Bank focused more on the Palestinian Authority than its Israeli occupier.
It has been a year without peace talks. And it has been a year in which economic conditions for Palestinians have deteriorated, Israeli settlements in the West Bank have expanded, and promised reconciliation between Mr. Abbas’s Fatah faction and the more militant Hamas that rules the Gaza Strip has failed to materialize.
“A lost year” is how Nabil Shaath, the Palestinian commissioner of international relations, put it in an interview this week. “We have wasted a whole year, and that waste cost us a lot in the circumstances of our people, in the support of our people. The frustration is unequaled. This stalemate, this closed door, this impasse cannot stay.”
Since then, the PLO tried a UN stunt that crashed and burned spectacularly, Fatah and Hamas announced a fake unity but are now further apart then ever, Arab nations continued to renege on financial pledges to the PA,and the world realized that the status quo is really not so terrible for Palestinian Arabs.
In comparison with the real news from the Arab world - the revolutions, the rise of Islamism and the violence in Syria - the Palestinian Arab issue is now regarded, correctly, as a joke. Arab leaders pay it lip service and some Western leaders still do the same, but the world has recognized what Mahmoud Abbas said in 2009, that "in the West Bank we have a good reality . . . the people are living a normal life."
What the New York Times doesn't realize is that world leaders, Arab and non-Arab alike, are sick of Palestinian Arab intransigence. The decision to walk away from talks was stupid and counterproductive, and no one has sympathy with people who keep whining about how awful their lives are but who choose publicity stunts over actual decision making. The PLO, caring more about pride than substance, sticks to its guns.
And then they choose to continue to try even more stunts:
While there is broad support for the United Nations bid among Palestinian leaders and on the street, there are also growing calls for a far more drastic move: abandoning the Oslo agreements that have governed Palestinian-Israeli relations for nearly two decades, or dissolving the Palestinian Authority. After two evenings of sometimes-heated meetings this week, according to participants, Mr. Abbas told the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization that within 10 days of his return from New York he wanted a decision either to walk away from Oslo or to hold national elections and replace him.They are not scrapping Oslo, they are not dissolving the PA and Abbas isn't stepping down until he is dead. We've seen this play before.
Experts on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict see this more as posturing than serious policy making, and they warn that a vacuum could provide opportunity for extremists. “Supposing now you scrap Oslo — then what?” Tony Blair, the representative of the so-called quartet — the Middle East peacemaking group made up of the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia — asked in an interview on Wednesday. “If you burn the house down on the basis that somebody’s going to have to build you something new, you might just be left with a burned house.”
It is another stunt to frighten the world. Like a child having a temper tantrum, the Palestinian Arab leadership is acting more to regain the spotlight than to do anything constructive.
And now that the world has seen the real upheavals in the Middle East, no one is really in the mood to coddle a spoiled brat.