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Abbas’ Gambit Looking More Like a Bluff

I win a bet, but do not rejoice

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Yesterday in Ramallah, the West Bank.(Abbas Momani/AFP/Getty Images)

I made a bet with my colleague Liel Leibovitz. Liel, ever the lefty idealist, asserted that the Palestinian Authority would submit a resolution for some kind of symbolic statehood to the U.N. General Assembly (and that it would then pass with a significant majority, putting real pressure on Israel—this last part not being part of the bet’s terms, but the consequence nonetheless the logic behind it). I bet him that they wouldn’t; I guessed that they would bungle it. This doesn’t reflect any deep-seated feeling I have about that people, but rather a clear-eyed look at their history, which has seen their leadership—and it’s largely the same leadership—constantly mangle chances to advance their cause, and seemingly go out of their way to fulfill that obnoxious dictate of Abba Eban’s that I can’t even bear to write down.

I’m probably going to win. As we know, Palestinian Authority President Abbas pledged, rather, to submit a resolution to the U.N. Security Council. There, it will take weeks, even months, even an indefinite period of time, to make its way through the system. There, it faces certain veto and in fact possible defeat without one, as six or seven Security Council countries are likely to vote against (the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Colombia, Nigeria—thanks, Ehud Barak—and perhaps Gabon and Bosnia-Herzegovina—they need seven to defeat a resolution). Meantime, Abbas is free to negotiate, and—whaddya know?—is said to be planning to meet with President Obama today on the sidelines, and has said he’d be willing to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu as well. As Hussein Ibish points out, if Abbas were truly all in, he would have already submitted his resolution, and then let the parties deal with him. (Ibish also remonstrates those who would cut aid to the P.A., noting that this would be very bad not only for them but for Israel as well.) Instead, in letting it play out this way, Abbas is very clearly doing what it takes to save face at home—going up against the Americans and seeking full recognition for Palestine—without many actual sacrifices.

So I’m probably going to win. And that is unfortunate for the Palestinians, who deserve leaders who have more to lose than mere credibility. And for that reason, I take no consolation from my victory (though I will take lunch at the great Lebanese place near our offices; those were the terms).

Statehood Bid Could Be Delayed for Weeks [Haaretz/Forward]
Last-Minute Deal Could Avert Collision Course at the U.N. [The National]
U.N. May Delay Vote on Statehood [LAT]
Obama Backer: Israelis Would ‘Pay in Blood’ for Perry’s ‘Obsession’ [Ben Smith]
Earlier: BREAKING: Abbas to Go to Security Council

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fred lapides says:

Hamas and Gaza seldom mentioned in discussions of Palestinian statehood, yet there is a substantial group of Palestinians living in Gaza, and Hamas seems reluctant to go on record for or against the Abbas move.
Whatever happens over time, the Gaza Palestinians will play some sort of role, though no one sure what that might be.

It is sad that Marc Tracy has no compunction besmirching Abba Eban – such is his willingness to show hate.

The dictate that he is unwilling to mention, “The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity,” was a response by Eban to his attempts at Geneva peace talks to make peace with the Arabs which supported their honor, just as he had always attempted to find diplomatic options. Eban was certainly a dove politically. Nevertheless, he also recognized the reality of the refusal to negotiate and finalize peace treaties by some Arab states and the PLO. And that is what we have now, with the Palestinians under Abbas having refused to negotiate for more than a year, then making preconditions which justify their refusal, and now making an end-run around real negotiations.

Seriously, who hates on Abba Eban? That’s like hating on Betsy Ross.

Lynne T says:

Talk about the emperor with no clothes, “unity government” with Hamas notwithstanding, Abbas cannot enter Gaza.

philip mann says:

This whole affair seems like it hurts the palestinians more than it does Israel. The Israeli government is threatening to withhold the tax ,or duties it collects on behalf of the authority. Imagine. A supposedly independant state has to go schnorring collection agencies from another state.

From the little I`ve read about history,there was a time when states were recognised on the basis of whether they could handle their own affairs-transportation of goods,policing,miltary,and tax. A vote by a a bunch of bureaucrats doesn`t help them at all.

M. Weiss says:

The quote from Abba Eban is: “The Arabs never miss a chance to lose an opportunity.”The misquote that is usually cited is hopelessly awkward and inelegant, an arrangement of words Eban would have avoided at all costs.

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Abbas’ Gambit Looking More Like a Bluff

I win a bet, but do not rejoice

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