President Abbas’s speech opens up a chance at lasting peace

In perhaps his most fiery speech since this past summer’s violence between Israel and Hamas, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the United Nations General Assembly Friday, blasting Israel for conducting a “war of genocide” over its 50-day operation in Gaza that resulted in the deaths of more than 2,000 Palestinians and 69 Israelis. In his speech, Abbas stated that he would seek a U.N. resolution to establish a deadline to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory captured in the War of 1967. WEB_dt-palestine

In response, both Israeli and American officials blasted the speech as a provocative statement that “undermine[d] efforts to create a positive atmosphere and restore trust between the parties,” as stated by State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

But those wishing to write off Abbas’s speech as contrary to the interests of peace are not listening carefully enough.

Though Abbas’s sentiments were filled with charged language, using terms such as “genocidal crime” and “racism” to capture the Palestinian people’s frustration with this past summer’s violence, that wasn’t all the leader said. In fact, underneath all that rhetoric, Abbas’s ultimate message has remained the same: a commitment to ending the occupation and achieving a Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital based on 1967 borders alongside a secure State of Israel.

Before passing judgment on Abbas’s rhetoric, it is important to understand where he is coming from. For starters, his speech was made following not only one of the most violent operations the region has seen in recent memory, but also the Israeli government’s decision to illegally annex nearly 1,000 acres of Palestinian land. Amid the bloodshed and continued settlement expansion, it’s almost laughable that the United States and Israel would accuse Abbas of undermining the peace process when such negotiations have yet to lead to any real substantive results.

It is clear from his appeal that Abbas has no interest in returning to the cycle of negotiations that have proven to be largely futile over the past two decades. His intention to pursue unilateral action through the United Nations indicates he is no longer content with the status quo, and instead intends to pursue future negotiations with Israel not as a nation under occupation, but as the president of an internationally recognized country and a serious partner for a peaceful resolution.

Abbas is no fool — he is well aware that the U.N. General Assembly has no real political teeth and that any substantive measure approved will be vetoed by the United States should it attain a majority in the Security Council. But by addressing the United Nations in such a way, Abbas is making his stance clear: The era of fruitless and repetitive attempts at negotiation is over.

Rather than grasp at straws to paint Abbas as a threat to peace, both American and Israeli leadership ought to engage in meaningful action to bring an immediate end to the occupation, and a legitimate return to negotiations. With the recent announcement of the Palestinian Authority assuming control over the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, as well as Hamas’s support of the establishment of a Palestinian State within 1967 borders, the opportunity to move forward and reach a long-term solution to this interminable conflict is imminent.

It would be a shame to waste it.


Yasmeen Serhan is a junior majoring in international relations. She is also the special projects editor of the Daily Trojan. “Point/Counterpoint” runs Tuesdays.


5 replies
  1. William Buttrey
    William Buttrey says:

    Israel’s actions constitute genocide by the UN definitions (brought about in part because of the atrocities committed against various peoples during WWII). The UN also condemns seizing territory by conquest.

    • Arafat
      Arafat says:

      Israel should also withdraw immediately from the United Nations
      (whose full name seems more accurately to be UNAI, the United Nations Against
      Israel) and help found a robust league of democracies, a new body where human
      rights violators don’t preside over human rights councils and where blocs of
      Islamists and communists don’t dictate to progressive republics. The UN might
      have arguably been the greatest endeavor man ever embarked upon; instead, it is a tiresome farce run by malevolent circus clowns. This is one club to which the
      Jew, and the Jewish State, should not belong and not wish to belong.

      • Arafat
        Arafat says:

        Turn the UN into a homeless shelter so that at least it does some good for the world. Wait a minute–if we do that, the entire New York City prostitution industry will be devastated.

  2. no
    no says:

    “his speech was made following not only one of the most violent operations the region has seen in recent memory” This is either willful ignorance or extreme naïveté on the part of the author. If you are looking for violent operations in the region see ISIS crucifixions and attempted genocide, Assad Chemical Weapons, etc. It is true that this was a violent operation, but to call it one of the most violent when nearly 200 TIMES that many have died just north in the Syrian civil war is anti-semitism or careless writing, neither of which have a place in this publication.

  3. Arafat
    Arafat says:

    There is no “Palestine”. There might have been, but they chose war instead-
    time and again:

    The would-have-been “Palestinians” would have had a state IN PEACE in 1937 with the Peel Plan, but they violently rejected it.

    They would have had a state IN PEACE in 1939 with the MacDonald White Paper, but they violently rejected it (and Jews would have even been restricted from BUYING
    land from Arabs).

    They would have had a state IN PEACE in 1948 with UN 181, but they violently rejected it (and actually claimed that the UN had no such mandate!).

    They could have had a state IN PEACE in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza from 1948-1967 without any Jews- because the Arabs had ethnically cleansed every last one; but they violently rejected it. In fact, that’s exactly when they established Fatah
    (1959) and the PLO (1964).

    They could have had a state IN PEACE after 1967, but instead, the entire Arab world
    issued the Khartoum Resolutions:

    A. No peace with Israel

    B. No recognition of Israel

    C. No negotiations with Israel

    They would have had a state IN PEACE in 2000 with the Oslo Accords, but they
    violently rejected it- as always.

    And as soon as Israel pulled every single Israeli out of Gaza, what did the
    would-have-been “Palestinians” do? They immediately started shooting thousands
    of missiles into Israeli population centers, they elected Hamas (whose official
    platform calls for jihad with no negotiations until Israel is destroyed) to
    rule them, and they have dug tunnels crossing into the Negev to kill and kidnap

    And even afterwards, Ehud Olmert made his subsequent generous offer that went far beyond even that of Barak. The would-have-been “Palestinians” rejected it.

    They had many chances.

    They threw them all away because destroying Israel was higher on their priority
    list. It still is.

    Oh well. That’s their choice.

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