Meeting in Istanbul today with the 57-member Organization for Islamic Cooperation [OIC], 82-year-old Palestine Liberation Chairman Mahmoud Abbas preached to the anti-Israel choir, telling the body that he would no longer accept the U.S. as a peace broker. Abbas pounced on the chance to denounce 71-yea-old President Donald Trump’s Dec. 6 decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Muslim leaders. led by 54-year-old Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, “rejected and condemned” Trump decision, demanding that the anti-Israel U.N. takeover the peace process. Trump’s Dec. 6 decision was the perfect excuse for Abbas to beg the U.N. to do the impossible, broker a pro-Palestinian peace deal. With Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip in shambles and the PLO’s West Bank running out of cash, rejecting the U.S. assures that there’s no end to Palestinian misery.
Abbas was 32-years-of-age when he joined in the 1967 Arab war of annihilation against Israel, led by Egypt’s Abdul Gamel Nasser, Syria’s Hafez al-Assad, Jordan’s King Hussein, Lebanon Prime Minister Suleiman Frangieh and Iraqi President Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr. When the dust settled June 10, 1967, Israel had vanquished all six Arab militaries, including the PLO, annexing the Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, Jordan’s East Jerusalem and West Bank and Syria’s Golan Heights. After suffering a humiliating defeat, Muslim nations never accepted Israel’s spoils, despite Israel giving back the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza back in 1979 and 1994. Israel has endured numerous wars since 1967 and Palestinian uprisings, all designed to destroy the Jewish State. U.N. officials have tried to broker peace based on Israel returning to its pre-1967 borders, something Israel can’t do for security reasons.
Whether Abbas likes it or not, he can’t create a Palestinian State without U.S. help, since Israel won’t be bullied by the U.N. or anti-Israel Arab states. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Abbas’ “type of rhetoric that we heard has prevented peace in the past, and it’s no necessarily surprising that those types of thing would be said.” What infuriates Turkey and other Muslim countries is that Jerusalem was in the Ottoman control for about five-hundred years. Contrary to Arab League or OIC, Jerusalem is not a Muslim City, despite the Arab quarter housing the Al Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest shrine. All the outrage against Trump recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital stems from Arabs’ collective failure trying to destroy Israel. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Jordan’s King Hussein recall what it’s like to go to war with Israel.
With all the U.N.’s anti-Israel sentiment, there’s no neutral broker capable of working on a coherent peace deal. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won’t capitulate to U.N. demands to return East Jerusalem or the West Bank to Jordan. Palestinians held no sovereign territory either before Israel’s 1948 war of Independence or the 1967 Six-Day-War. Abbas can preach to the OIC all he wants but he knows that Trump’s Dec. 6 decision does not prejudice the U.S. as a fair-and-impartial peace broker. Trump told Palestinians that any final status with regard to West Jerusalem or East Jerusalem would have to be negotiated in direct talks. Arab states have to get over that West Jerusalem or East Jerusalem is not in their hands. Israel won’t relinquish control of any territory without direct negotiations with Palestinians. Declaring an independent state won’t force Israel to vacate Jerusalem.
U.N. states are acutely aware that the U.S. is a key backer and ally of Israel. That special security relationship gives the U.S. unique leverage with which to help broker a peace deal between Israel and Palestinians. No other country in the world can take the U.S. role. Abbas knows it’s a non-starter to plead with the United Nations to broker a pro-Palestinian peace deal. “We were shocked by the U.S. administration,” Abbas told the OIC. “While we engaged with them in the pace process for the sake of a deal for ages, [Trump] delivered a slap for the ages,” ripping the White House for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Abbas knows that the final status of Jerusalem is subject to negotiation in direct talks, yet insults the White House speaking to the anti-Israel crowd. With Erdogan slapping his back, Abbas makes an end-run to the U.N. to avoid direct talks with Israel.
Hosting the Knesset [Parliament] since 1950, Jerusalem has served as Israel’s unofficial capital since Day One. Whether or not the U.S. moves its embassy to Jerusalem should be of no consequence to Palestinians or anyone else. If Palestinians want East Jerusalem as capital of a future state, the path goes through Washington, not the United Nations. With the U.N. anti-Israel bias, it’s not capable of facilitating any even-handed peace process. Abbas needs Trump to twist Netanyahu’s arm, to get Palestinians a deal they can live with. Declaring the U.S. out of the peace process, Abbas has guaranteed the road to a two-state solution is nowhere in sight. Instead of preaching the anti-Israel crowd, Abbas should stop the incitement, work with Trump and get back to the peace table. “All of these declarations do not impress us,” said Netanyahu, telling Abbas to get back to peacemaking.