By ROBERT LAURIE – Before the vote? Peace. After the vote? Threats.
Yesterday, the United Nations voted to grant Palestine status as a non-member observer state. That may sound like a faint honor, but the official recognition is a tremendous upgrade in terms of Palestinian prominence on the world stage. It’s also a move that many Western nations, including the United States, had hoped to avoid.
“The moment has arrived for the world to say clearly: Enough of aggression, settlements and occupation,” said Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas prior to the vote. “We did not come here seeking to delegitimize a state established years ago, and that is Israel; rather we came to affirm the legitimacy of the state that must now achieve its independence, and that is Palestine.”
Abbas’s rosy picture of Palestine’s peaceful intentions was focused on negotiation and coexistence.
“Our endeavor is not aimed at terminating what remains of the negotiations process, which has lost its objectivity and credibility, but rather aimed at trying to breathe new life into the negotiations and at setting a solid foundation for it based on the terms of reference of the relevant international resolutions in order for the negotiations to succeed.”
He also used the opportunity to paint Gaza as a victim, saying “The Israeli aggression against our people in the Gaza Strip has confirmed once again the urgent and pressing need to end the Israeli occupation and for our people to gain their freedom and independence.”
Magically, he managed to avoid any mention of Palestinians lobbing missiles into Israel. If Abbas is to be believed, Palestine just wants everyone to get along and their enhanced UN status will help.
Sunday morning, after the vote had gone his way, Abbas returned to Ramallah and gave a victory speech to thousands of jubilant Palestinians who had assembled to celebrate their UN win. With flags waving, he took to the podium and addressed the crowd. Perhaps unsurprisingly, his remarks seemed to suggest that peace was not exactly his first priority.
“Raise your heads high, because you are Palestinians!” He shouted. “You have proof that you are stronger than the occupation, because you are Palestinians… stronger than the settlements, because you are Palestinians!”
“One day, a young Palestinian will raise the Palestinian flag over Jerusalem,” he vowed, “the eternal capital of the state of Palestine!”
In a written statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu summed up his thoughts in a typically stoic manner. “These are not the words of a man who wants peace,” he said.Read more: