Addressing the recent gathering of the United Nations, the Israeli prime minister Yair Lapid endorsed a two-state solution, winning praise from America’s ambassador to the UN and stirring controversy in Israel. As Ben Cohen observes, the U.S. representative reacted far more coolly to the speech delivered by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president—which consisted of predictable denunciations of imagined Israeli crimes. This coolness may reflect a realistic appraisal of Abbas’s character, but, Cohen argues, not one that is likely to get any explicit acknowledgment:
That is why, when Abbas is taken at his word by a senior American diplomat in terms of his commitment to non-violence and a negotiated compromise, serious questions need to be asked. In terms of bloodcurdling rhetoric targeting Israel, Abbas is not the worst Palestinian leader, but his willingness to promote some of the ugliest slanders against the Jewish state compels one to ask just how genuine his support for two states and non-violence actually is.
Abbas has never disavowed the notion that Israel is an interloper and a colonizer. . . . In Germany only last month, he caused a scandal when he stood alongside Chancellor Olaf Scholz and sullenly declared that Israel was guilty of perpetrating “50 holocausts” upon the Palestinians. This was in response to a journalist’s query about whether he would finally apologize to the families of the eleven Israeli athletes murdered in a Palestinian terrorist operation at the Munich Olympics in 1972.
What [the U.S. ambassador’s] statement elides is that Abbas is far more wedded to these dubious ideas—the bedrock of the Palestinian eliminationist program—than he is to the diplomatic goals articulated at the Security Council. The rhetoric about two states can only be seen as lip service, unless one is prepared to accept the bizarre contention that having denounced Israel as a racist open-air prison for Palestinians, they would happily live alongside it. The rhetoric about Israel’s lack of legitimacy, however, is firmly in keeping with the Palestinians’ own ideology.