In taking his case to the UN, Mahmoud Abbas is hoping to force an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank. But what could Abbas possibly expect to achieve that Israel had not already offered him (or Arafat) in 2000, 2001, and 2008? Jeff Robbins suggests an answer:
The answer . . . and the reasonable inference to be drawn from the history of Palestinian rejectionism is not a particularly happy one. It is that Israel’s proposals for an independent Palestinian state have come with a condition that the Palestinian leadership has regarded as a deal-breaker: a permanent end of the conflict, and a commitment to accept Israel’s existence. By contrast, the Security Council end-game sought by the Palestinians is an end-run around any such condition; it would impose on the Palestinians no obligation to end the dispute.
This is not by chance. As Abbas knows, the Palestinian street opposes any end of conflict with Israel that fails to bring about its disappearance. Even before the summer’s war between Israel and Hamas, a public-opinion poll showed that fewer than 30 percent of Palestinians supported a two-state solution—a West Bank/Gaza state living in lasting peace with Israel. Almost two-thirds told pollsters that “resistance should continue until all of historic Palestine is liberated.” And this past September, 80 percent of Palestinians polled said that Hamas should continue to fire rockets at Israel, with Hamas, recognized by the United States as a terrorist enterprise, receiving an 88-percent approval rating, compared with only 36 percent approving the considerably more moderate Palestinian Authority government led by Abbas.