MAHMOUD ABBAS addressed the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday in his capacity as "President of State of Palestine," or so the official text posted on the UN website identifies him.
In reality, Abbas is no more the lawful president of Palestine than George W. Bush is the lawful president of the United States. Both were sworn in for four-year terms in January 2005. Those terms expired more than six years ago. If Bush had appeared before the UN plenum this week and presumed to announce a change in American policy, he would have been thought delusional and jeered off the podium. That is the reaction that Abbas deserved when he traveled to UN headquarters in New York and proclaimed that the Palestinian Authority will no longer be bound by agreements signed with Israel.
But in what is by now a long-established charade, the world body pretended to accept Abbas's political legitimacy. Delegates listened courteously as he declared that the kleptocratic and dictatorial Palestinian Authority is committed to "the rule of law and transparency as a democratic and modern state." They didn't burst into laughter — though they should have — when he assured them that he and the Palestinian leadership are "spreading the culture of peace and coexistence" with Israel. Or when he accused the Jewish state — the only Middle East government that scrupulously protects the full religious freedom of its minorities — of using "brutal force to ... undermine the Islamic and Christian sanctities in Jerusalem."
To speak for the Palestinian Authority at the UN is to be indulged in any claim, however dishonest. Abbas's speech was replete with falsehoods, but the most egregious were his pieties about the "two-state solution." Like Yasser Arafat before him, Abbas has no intention of ever accepting the legitimacy of a Jewish state of Israel alongside an Arab state of Palestine. Incitement against Israel and the demonization of Jewish sovereignty has been a staple of Palestinian Authority rhetoric for years; one more speech at the UN changed nothing. It merely prolonged the disgraceful sham of treating a Palestinian strongman's hate-filled lies as if they were respectable truths, and thereby ensuring the continuation of a conflict that could have ended two generations ago.
(Jeff Jacoby is a columnist for The Boston Globe).
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