Analysis || Abbas, the man who drew the Green Line
While Netanyahu was busy drawing a red line, the Palestinian president re-drew the Green Line: his people's red line for negotiating any peace agreement with Israel.
An hour before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu drew a red line for Iran at the UN General Assembly, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas re-drew the Green Line for him. The Green Line, Abbas told the assembly, is his people's red line for negotiating any peace agreement with Israel.
He once again offered to accept Israel's keeping 78 percent of Mandatory Palestine's territory. No more and no less. (Attention should be paid by Ehud Barak, who pulled out of the attic the idea of a unilateral withdrawal to a temporary border - a plan admirably suited to Israel alone. )
Abbas extolled the Arab peace initiative and said it has recently won the blessing of the "non-aligned" states and the Organization of Islamic States. This time too, the historic initiative offering Israel peace and diplomatic relations with all the Arab and Islamic states (Iran has not objected ), passed over Netanyahu's head.
In September 1993 I watched Abbas as he blithely signed the Declaration of Principles (the Oslo Accord ) on the White House lawn. In the course of the 19 years that have passed since then, he has learned that where the Israelis are concerned, "temporary" can very quickly become permanent. In his speech last night, Netanyahu almost completely ignored the conflict, the occupation and the long-comatose negotiations. They did not merit his attention. He is dealing with Hitler's heir, who has decided to wipe Israel off the map.
The leader of a state that is seen (only according to foreign sources, of course ) as a nuclear power and refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, turned the UN stage into a show about abused children. He demanded of the international community to stop the Iranian threat; otherwise, as is commonly known, Israel will know how to defend itself.
Netanyahu theatrically provided journalists with their headline - Bibi warns that by next summer Iran will reach the red line. Abbas made do with warning that the two-state solution was running out of time and the Palestinian Authority was growing weaker. If you put the two warnings together, the result could be that when Iran completes its nuclear program, Israel will have to complete its plan to take over the West Bank again.
For decades Netanyahu has ridden on Arab terrorism. He did so with great talent, all the way to the prime minister's seat. Now that terror against Israelis is at an ebb - especially due to the excellent coordination with the Palestinian security forces - the terror card, along with the incitement card, have changed hands. The leader of a nation with no state presented dry figures - 535 attacks by Israelis against Palestinians since his speech from the same podium; 510 Palestinian buildings destroyed, leaving 770 people without a roof over their heads.
When Bibi asked world leaders to prevent Iran from obtaining weapons of mass destruction, Abbas asked them to stop Israel's very conventional weapons - robbing lands and water, tearing down houses and harassing villagers, setting mosques on fire, chopping down trees and restricting movement.
Netanyahu rebuilt the Israeli "case" on the history of an ancient, Holocaust-stricken people. Abbas spoke about the here and now. He translated the "never again" into Arabic, stating "never again another Nakba."
He built his "case" on international law and on UN reports. He based his tactic on American politics. The request to be accepted as a UN member state will wait for November 6, U.S. election day. Some say (the Americans have not confirmed this) that Obama has promised Abbas mountains in exchange for this great favor. The reward the Palestinians think they deserve is a U.S. vote in their favor in the General Assembly, or at least an abstention. But they're not holding their breath.