Analysis |

Palestinian President Abbas Puts One-state Solution on the Table

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza and despair in the West Bank in the face of massive settlement construction have left the Palestinian president with few options and his back against the wall

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gestures after addressing the United Nations General Assembly in New York, September 20, 2017.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gestures after addressing the United Nations General Assembly in New York, September 20, 2017.Credit: Seth Wenig/AP
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ speech at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday was punctuated with anger and frustration. Abbas is aware that his ability to inspire hope in his people – the hope of an independent Palestinian state – is diminishing before his own eyes. This very forum, which applauded Abbas six years ago when he submitted an application for the recognition of Palestine, has since failed to turn its support into facts on the ground.

The Palestinians had high expectations for the Obama administration, which has made way for an administration unwilling to wholeheartedly commit to a two-state solution to the conflict based on 1967 borders. Even during Abbas' meeting with Donald Trump ahead of the former’s speech before the assembly, the U.S. president voiced only slogans rather than a concrete plan.

>>'A story of survival and rebirth': The Palestinians who didn't flee the Nakba

Speaking at the highest international forum, Abbas declared that the one-state solution is an option for the Palestinian leadership. “Neither you, nor we, will have any other choice but to continue the struggle and demand full, equal rights for all inhabitants of historic Palestine,” he said. “This is not a threat, but a warning of the realities before us as a result of ongoing Israeli policies that are gravely undermining the two-state solution.”

One can argue, not without merit, that Abbas' repeated threats to throw in the towel in recent years are empty: The Palestinian Authority leadership would never give up its status and the privileges that come with it. It will always find a reason to preserve itself while shelving any potentially dramatic step.

>>The Arab lawmaker vying to be prime minister of a utopian Israeli-Palestinian state

And yet those who follow developments in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip understand that this game cannot last forever. The siege and humanitarian crisis in Gaza and despair in the West Bank in the face of massive Israeli settlement construction have left the Palestinian president with his back against the wall.

Abbas and his political circle know very well that a quarter of a century after the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian public has lost hope. Survey results released before Abbas’ visit to New York found that two-thirds of the Palestinian public demands that he resigns.

The poll, conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, headed by Khalil Shikaki, also found that 57 percent of Palestinians no longer believe in a two-state solution, while 74 percent think the Trump administration is not serious in its intentions to reach a peace agreement.

The hope Abbas instilled in the international community has also vanished. He made clear that even if the world gives up on the two-state solution, some 6.5 million Palestinians still live between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. In his speech, Abbas implied that they will not disappear, evaporate or be expelled. Instead, they will demand their full rights. Israel, the United States and the international community will have to figure out how to accomplish that.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

$1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN

A family grieves outside the SSGT Willie de Leon Civic Center following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on Wednesday.

Israeli PM Offers Condolences After Texas Gunman Kills 21 at Elementary School

U.S. President Joe Biden, this week.

Biden Decides to Keep Iran's Revolutionary Guards on Terror List, Says Report

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.

Progressive Jews Urge ADL Chief to Apologize for Calling Out Democratic Activist

Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders with Jessica Cisneros in San Antonio last week.

It’s AIPAC vs. Bernie Sanders in Too-close-to-call Texas Democratic Runoff

U.S. President Joe Biden. Making a historic pivot to Asia.

Biden Does What His Three Predecessors Talked About Yet Failed to Do

Meir Kahane addressing his followers during a demonstration in Jerusalem, in 1984.

Why the U.S. Removed Kahane Chai From Terrorist Blacklist