No Victory for Palestine: Abbas’ Farewell Speech at the UN

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With contrived drama and a fake sense of anticipation, Mahmoud Abbas rode on the wave of Palestinian popular nationalist fervor in the wake of the Israeli assault on Gaza, and came to the UN as he had long promised to submit – and obtain – a non-member status for the State of Palestine.

The Palestinian people will now have a status comparable to the Vatican. As Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish, once said: the struggle of the Palestinian people over a century entitles them to much more than a state.

Abbas was supposed to submit the request to the UN Security Council but the US pressured him not to proceed with that plan.

The US did not want to be exposed to the world, yet again, as the stalwart enemy of the Palestinian people. The US did not want, yet again, to use the veto power to shield its client state of Israel. Abbas has always been the obedient servant of the US and Israel. The very job that Abbas occupied at the PA, first as a prime minister and then as PA president with an expired mandate, was designed for him by Israel. Abbas did not want much, he wanted a little tiny statelet that would serve to bolster his status among his people.

Abbas is a person without a popular base. He has no power and he has to beg Israel, EU, GCC and US for his salary and for the salaries of his inflated bureaucracy and the military and intelligence services that he heads on Israel’s behalf. His job was and is to repress and kill Palestinians in order to make the occupation less costly on the occupiers.

Abbas is also a notoriously corrupt person, who has enriched his sons and himself on the job and who also enriched his corrupt cronies. Arafat presided over a corrupt authority within Fatah, the PLO, and later the PA. But at least Arafat was not personally corrupt and lived mostly an ascetic life.

Abbas has become desperate. He is despised by his people and has been rendered insignificant by Hamas and by the enemies of the Palestinians, who feel that he has outlived his usefulness although they don’t feel that they have a replacement for him yet. They keep him on the job and hope that he won’t do anything unacceptable and that he would not raise his voice at his masters and handlers.

But Abbas has had enough.

He saw from the war on Gaza that the Palestinian people still get a thrill from armed resistance to Israeli aggression. He saw that the notion of peaceful struggle is not only unpopular, but has proven its failure and bankruptcy in Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, and Palestine. All those countries tried to pursue peaceful negotiations with Israel to obtain their lands back and all of them failed.

The Egyptian people now belatedly realize that Anwar Sadat and Husni Mubarak had fooled them; that Sinai has not been recovered and that Israel still exercises sovereignty over Egyptian territory.

Abbas has become very belatedly fed up with the humiliation that is regularly visited on him by Israel and the US – notwithstanding Hillary Clinton’s recent visit to him in the hope of elevating his stature, as if Arabs who are praised by the US obtain elevated status among their people.

Abbas is going down and he is at the end of his career. Not much is left by way of tricks and pleadings with Israel. Israel has made it clear to him that he won’t get that little state in parts of West Bank and Gaza, which the Fatah movement now wants. Abbas wanted to leave the stage with a PR stunt. He hoped to emulate Arafat’s show at the UN back in 1974. Here, history repeated itself as a farce.

Abbas does not have the stature of Arafat among his people, and Arafat (at the time) was fighting for a secular state in all of Palestine. Abbas hoped that he could win the support of his people, who have been outraged at his recent humiliating interview with Israeli TV in which he renounced any claim to Safad and to 1948 Palestine.

Abbas was begging for his people’s approval this time.

He denounced Israeli crimes in a language that the US has not allowed him to use for years. And he chronicled some of the Zionist crimes in Palestine. He did not use his characteristic language of peace that has been inculcated in him by his US masters. Instead, Abbas resorted to the Arabic rhetoric of Fatah on Palestine from yesteryear.

But the speech can’t be measured by its emotional rhetoric – as much as it displeased Israel. It can only be measured by its political content. And in that regard, Abbas did not waver on his demand for a mini-state in 22% of Palestine. He also spoke of Israeli right to exist side-by-side with a mini-state that it aims to dominate, control and occupy. He also seems to pledge that he won’t use his new status to embarrass Israel. Audaciously, the US and Israel have pressured him to refrain from joining the ICC for fear of presenting cases of war crimes by Israel. The US and Israel blatantly want to defend Israeli right to perpetrate war crimes and massacres. US Congress was indignant.

But the vote at the UN General Assembly – despite the typical US pressures and tactics of intimidation, which the US employed back in 1947 to produce the ill-cited Partition Plan giving the Jewish minority (one-third of the population) 55% of the land (the Arab majority were “awarded” only 42% of their homeland at the time) – was an embarrassment to Israel and the US.

Despite US influence over EU’s foreign policy, the international public opinion in favor of Palestine was revealed to the world. The US has always wanted to cover up the reality of international popular public support for Palestine. The US was isolated with eight other countries in voting “no”. It was only Israel, the US, Canada, Panama, Czech Republic, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, and Palau that voted against the Palestinian membership.

The Arab world will get to see yet again that the US is what stands in the way of Palestinian liberation.Arab countries and the PA will work hard to portray what happened as a great victory. It is not. This is largely a symbolic measure that only helps to illustrate the global sympathy for the Palestinian struggle for liberation.

The real struggle for liberation will continue and it won’t be taking places on the territory of New York City.


I am always surprised that Arabs do not mention all the fake borders in the ME were created by the colonial powers. What about the made up state of Jordan? What about the fact that Jordan had control of the West Bank till 67 while Egypt controlled the "outdoor prison" that was and is Gaza? All the ranting about Israel maintaining a blockade... where is the outcry about Egypt keeping its border mostly closed as it has since '48?

Makes me wonder what the agenda really is... clearly its not about a free and prosperous Palestine.

I am never surprised by Zionist hasabara - it is so predictable :)

Yes, fake borders in the ME were created by the colonial powers, esp the fake borders of so-called Israel. So-called Jordan was also created by UK and its "rulers" were always puppets -first of UK, then of USA and Zionists, getting payed for their dirty service.

And about Egypt Zionists pretend that "mostly" it was under rule of puppets of the same UK, USA and Zionists.

Make me bored by too-obvious agenda of Zionist apologist of aparteid aka Israel - the main obstacle to Palestinians simply staying alive, not mentioning "free and prosperous"

No mention by Abu Khalil that this pitiful excuse of a charade at the UN to produce some cosmetic dignity for Palestinians was catalysed by the Hamas/Iran/Hezb axis. Good journalism is about correct analysis. Credit ought to be given where credit is due.

To my obviously Zionist anonymous friend,

The fight for Palestine is not about race or religion. Simply put, it is between an oppressor and the oppressed.

and may i remind you of the Haganah, Irgun and the Sterngang. Or were they freedom fighters?

Let me sum up:

From 1988 (so called mutual recognition between PLO and Israel) to 2012, i.e. 24 years, the PLO's achievement has been elevating the status of Palestine to a non-member observer state at the UN. Put aside for a moment what we lost in these years.

Now consider:
The PLO took arms around 1966, after many years of futal begging on the doors of anybody and everybody. From 1966 to 1974, it achieved an observer state status.

Did anybody get the lesson? Is there still anybody sane in the PLO? Do they recognize what the world tells them?

Interesting that you say that Abbas used drama when the tone of your piece is all drama.
I guess for you it is all or nothing. Well, I think that Abbas is moderate and realistic, and it is a start. And I'm not sure that you can get "all."
But my biggest concern is with your view that we Egyptians never recovered Sinai. I believe you say it enviously because we have indeed recovered Sinai--almost 40 years ago. And we did it because we were realistic. Sometimes when you are adamant you don't get anything at all.
I wouldn't belittle Sadat if I were you--he did a good thing. Read "The Camp David Accord: lest we forget"

I believe Egypt had a state, recognized as sovereign and an army whose actions in the Yom Kippur war had something to do with Egypt getting back the Sinai. What you are asking for by a Palestinian leadership when you mention "realism" is not that the Palestinians gets back what Egypt did--all of they captured in the Six Day War--even if that territory is still subject to agreements with Israel that make that territory less than sovereign for Egypt, but that they accept far less than what Israel stole. To compare the two obscures the differences between the state of Egypt and what resources it had to get the Sinai back and the Palestinians who are not operating under the same circumstances. You're ignoring that Israel is a settler colonial state that wants to replace one society, the native one that was there when Israel was created, with another one. You're assuming that Israel under any administration, Labor, Likud, Kadima, wants to return land like it did with the Sinai. But Israel has no plans to do so, and Jimmy Carter isn't there pressuring the Israeli administration to do so.

When I read comments like yours, it becomes clear why the Palestinian cause is no longer really an "Arab" one but a global one instead. The Arabs have long forsaken the Palestinians leaving them to the designs of Tel Aviv and Washington D.C.

the sinai is NOT recovered or sovereign when israel controls the number of egyptian security forces and military in the area...

"Abbas is moderate and realistic"

Colonizers usually call their native lackeys"moderate" . Nothing new here.

"Realism" of Abbas brings so far only more colonization of Palestine, and no wonder - Abbas did his job by Zionist orders well.

No one could call land in which Zionists could do what they please, and Egypt rulers must ask Zionist for permission to do anything "recovered". No one but Zionist lackey, that is.

A little reality check. Israel is a tiny sliver of land in a sea of huge Arab and Islamic countries. Israel has no desire for one iota of Arab land. The Arabs, no matter how much land they already have, can't keep their greedy hands off Israel. They have DELIBERATELY blown up schoolbuses of children in Maalot, and have stabbed the Fogel children to death and blown up pizza shops and buses, etc.

When these Arab murderers act up, Israel has to punish them, and take deterrent measures. Otherwise, Israelis prefer to live happy productive lives, enjoying life, winning Nobel prizes, developing new products which they export and build their economy to impressive levels, excelling in all areas.

The Arabs, on the other hand, filled with hate and anger fueled by Islam and their general impotence, whether in Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, etc., do what they do best, and blow up cars and kill and maim each other, because that is their culture. All their countries are among the most backwards in the world. But it is all Israel's fault.

admit that we enjoy the bickering,and recriminations of frustrated Israel haters! Here, poor Abbas is condemned as a Western?Israeeli puppet, and he's cast out of the. Club of the True Haters. Perhaps only the suicide bomber qualifies for the purity of his hatred!
Dòn't blame poor Abbas ; After 13 centuries of dhimmihood, and 60 + years of feckless efforts to destroy Israel, Abbas has few choices.
Politics still " Comes out of a gun Barrel "

Ah yes, the pesky hate fueled, angry, impotent Arabs of Pakistan...always getting in the way of the Zionists winning their Nobel prizes and excelling in all areas*.

*except elementary school level geography

Israel is a settler colony on Palestinian land. All else is hasbara, and not an original one- for ex. one could imagine :"Rhodesia is a tiny sliver of land in a sea of huge Black countries"

"He saw that the notion of peaceful struggle is not only unpopular, but has proven its failure and bankruptcy in Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, and Palestine. All those countries tried to pursue peaceful negotiations with Israel to obtain their lands back and all of them failed."

I suppose it is not "peaceful struggle" that is unpopular, but so-called "peace process", ie abject surrender. BDS is popular, as far as I know

I could add that "right"Zionists are foaming of mouth, while "left" ones hope that this sham will be enough to tame Palestinians and made them forget right of return. It won't.

By the way Czech Republic was always praised by Western liberals for its "love of freedom" while they welcome Pinochet, send cannon fodder for NATO to Afghanistan and Iraq and attack Roma people. But liberals are OK with all of it. Liberals are anticommunists first, and colonialism and imperialism are their modus vivendi.

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