Alea Jacta Est! Quid Prodest?
Mahmoud Abbas decided that he has nothing to lose and he went for broke. The head of the PA knows that the approach to the UN will not pass the UNSC and the veto of the US. Equally he is aware he will not have a majority of EU states supporting the unilateral step. However, he believes his and Fatah’s positions - and electoral chances next year - are better served by what appears as a strong, principled and maximal position. Regardless of the result of a UNGA vote he appears as the staunch partisan and supporter of Palestinian interests. All while strongly emphasizing the importance of achieving independence via exclusively non-violent means. In contrast to Hamas, he positions himself and the PA as the democratic partner for peace and legitimate defender of the Palestinian cause. To some extent this is true and it is creating a huge pressure on both the Obama Administration and the Netanyahu government in Israel. However this may not further the chances for a functional Palestinian state. The speech and the request contained does not change the fact that the entire thing is a dead-end. Nothing will change on the ground and high and unrealistic expectations - partially fueled by the stance of the likes of Turkey’s PM Erdogan and the new Egyptian administration - will be soon quashed. Considering the fact that Hamas already distanced itself from the demarche, too aware that regardless of the outcome they suffer a PR setback, the chances for a unity Palestinian government are slimmer by the day. Even if we assume this is a correct moral position by the PA this is not a serious and responsible step towards a two state solution and lasting peace. The PA and Abbas, and with them West Bank prime minister Salam Fayyad, gain a symbolic victory but they may end up drawing the short straw when it comes to the cash-in of this entire saga. The other clear looser is Netanyahu. He is shown as the intransigent party incapable of creating the condition for compromise and fully responsible for the “last resort and not by choice unilateral” measure by the PA. Above all Palestinians and Israelis may end up being the bigger losers and with them also the citizens of some the region’s most undemocratic regimes. The context is flammable and tense. Extreme violence is not a remote possibility and many parties in the region believe an open conflict or serious crisis would solve their bigger domestic problems. The Palestinians may be right in their objective to establish a functional state but they are definitely not using the right means. The importance and failure of achieving a Palestinian unity is covered up by a huge smokescreen. But the smoke will raise soon enough and at the end of the day a new process needs to emerge replacing the stalemate and intrenched positions. For that reason maybe the entire debacle is not without merits.