Friday, November 30, 2012

Abbas' empty 'win'

(NYP) Some West Bankers may still feel this morning as if they’ve just won the $587 million Powerball jackpot — but they’ll soon realize that, despite the dazzle of yesterday’s vote at the United Nations, they had the wrong numbers: There’s no grand prize coming.

Yes, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas managed to line up an impressive number of General Assembly votes for his resolution naming Palestine as a UN non-member “state.” Some 138 countries supported him; nobody in “Old Europe” opposed. Only America, Canada, the Czech Republic, Panama and several Pacific island states joined Israel in voting nay (with 41 abstentions).

And, yes, the world media will wax poetic on Abbas’ diplomatic “victory.”

His carefully crafted resolution enshrined Palestine as a non-member UN “state” within the 1967 borders, including Jerusalem. (No territorial swaps or anything else that requires negotiations with Israel.) It also expressed the hope that the Security Council would soon accept the new state’s request to become a full member. (America vetoed that request last year.)

Yet, privately,European and even some Arab diplomats were grumbling:

* Abbas’ move is a poke in PresidentObama’s eye, after a personal presidential appeal to delay.

* And — thanks to US law that defunds any UN agency that unilaterally accepts Palestine as a member — it may harm the whole UN system.

And that’s from diplomats who voted for the resolution. Hey, that’s how Turtle Bay rolls.

At the United Nations, no one flinched yesterday when the resolution was introduced by world pariah Sudan, which is responsible for the Darfur genocide.

Nor did anyone flinch hours earlier, when the ambassador of Sri Lanka (which recently put down an insurrection in Tamil regions with unprecedented ruthlessness), spoke in his capacity as chairman of the UN “Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories.”

That’s the Turtle Bay way.

Last week, only Israel and Palau voted with America to oppose a near-unanimous General Assembly resolution condemning the US embargo of Cuba, a vote that’s recurred every year since 1960. The Castros crow about their world popularity and the “isolation” of the United States; the Union somehow manages to survive.

So, yes, because of the UN’s near irrelevancy, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was right in observing yesterday that the path to a Palestinian state doesn’t go through New York.

But the “world community” fears that Abbas is growing irrelevant, so even those who believed the resolution was ill-timed and bad for the peace process supported it. (Still, none of Abbas’ Arab “brother” statesmen bothered to show solidarity by sending a high-level representative for the vote, as Turkey and Indonesia did.)

Yet the move will at best boost Abbas’ popularity among Palestinians for a few days. After all, he’s been ruling over the West Bank by decree since his term as an elected president expired back in 2009 — because rival Hamas, which rules Gaza, would win any election by a landslide.

And Hamas’ self-declared “victory” last month in Gaza has only increased the appeal of the kind of “resistance” preached by the Islamist terrorist organization.

So, in the long run, yesterday’s “historic” event won’t boost Abbas’ popularity among Palestinians.

Speaking of history: On Nov. 29, 1947, Arab leaders rejected a UN resolution that recommended the establishment of two states, Arab and Jewish, in then-British-mandated Palestine. Ever since, generations of Palestinian leaders have preferred attacking the Jewish state to building an Arab one. And yesterday’s maneuver, 65 years later, continues that tradition.

Abbas called on the General Assembly to “issue a birth certificate on the reality of the state of Palestine,” but back in the West Bank, that state remains a mirage, and the vote won’t change that. Rather, as Abbas & Co. proudly declare, it will empower them to drag Israeli leaders to the International Criminal Court in the Hague. Hence his pointed talk yesterday about Israel’s “war crimes.”

Israel will survive. At the risk of stereotyping, it’d be a cruel joke if in the end the Jews lost out because they’re bad lawyers.

But as long as Palestinian leaders keep busy inventing new ways to bedevil Israel rather than improving the lot of their citizens, West Bankers and Gazans will continue to celebrate imaginary winnings — only to realize the next day that they’re still no closer to winning the lottery prize.