Withdrawing recognition of Israel is an old threat that Mahmoud Abbas has never followed through on, say fed-up Palestinians.
By David Hellerman, World Israel News
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas warned Israel it had one year to withdraw from Judea and Samaria or the PA would revoke its recognition of the Jewish state and escalate its activities at the International Court of Justice.
The ultimatum was delivered in a pre-recorded video address to the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly on Friday.
The speech was denounced by Israeli officials and widely derided on Palestinian social media.
Abbas said he was willing to negotiate final borders over the coming year but that if Israel did not ultimately end its occupation of territories seized in the 1967 war, then he would reconsider recognition of Israel.
“If this is not achieved, why maintain recognition of Israel based on the 1967 borders?” Abbas said. He also threatened to confront Israel at the International Court of Justice.
In 1990, the Palestine Liberation Organization headed by Yasser Arafat recognized Israel, which kick-started the Oslo accords and the creation of the Palestinian Authority.
“Our patience and the patience of our people have limits. This is our land, our Jerusalem, our Palestinian identity, and we shall defend it until the occupier leaves,” Abbas said.
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan said Abbas “proved once again that he is no longer relevant.”
“Those who truly support peace and negotiations do not threaten delusional ultimatums from the U.N. platform as he did in his speech,” Erdan said in a statement.
While Fatah cadres praised the speech, Palestinian social media mocked it. Many posts responding to the address featured the hashtags, “Hashtags saying “Abbas does not represent me” and “Go away.”
The comments reflected Abbas’ slipping popularity. According to a recent poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, 80 percent want Abbas to resign.
“The old man’s speech represents less than 19% of our people,” commented Iyad al-Qarra, a Palestinian writer.
Palestinian political analyst Dr. Fayez Abu Shamaleh told the Jerusalem Post that PA-controlled media raised expectations ahead of the speech.
“I followed the Palestinian Authority’s media before Mahmoud Abbas’s speech. They were talking about a ‘Day of Resurrection’ at the General Assembly, about the surprises that the president would make, about the Israelis who would flee the region, and about the people waiting in front of the satellite channels to watch their president,” Abu Shamaleh said. “The truth is that 99% of the Palestinian people did not follow the speech and did not care.”
Many of the social media posts noted that the 85-year-old Abbas on numerous occasions has threatened to sever security coordination and withdraw recognition of Israel, but has never followed through.
The Fatah-dominated PA is widely regarded as corrupt and inefficient. Because of the Hamas-Fatah rivalry, a Palestinian election hasn’t been held since 2006. Abbas is in the 17th year of a four-year term as PA President.
In April, Abbas cancelled an election that was due to be held in May. He blamed Israel for not allowing Palestinians in eastern Jerusalem to participate, but analysts said the vote was called off over fears of a Hamas victory.
Abbas also accused Israel of “apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing.”
“If the Israeli occupation authorities continue to entrench the reality of one apartheid state as is happening today, our Palestinian people and the entire world will not tolerate such a situation,” Abbas said. “Circumstances on the ground will inevitably impose equal and full political rights for all on the land of historical Palestine, within one state.”
The Palestinian leader also defended the PA’s stipends to Palestinian terrorists imprisoned in Israel and the families of terrorists killed in attacks.
“Why should we have to clarify and justify providing assistance to families of prisoners and martyrs, who are the victims of the occupation and its oppressive policies? We cannot abandon our people and we will continue striving to free all our prisoners,” Abbas said.
Associated Press contributed to this report.