most of what Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas recently
said at the United Nations has been heard already, many times,
the context has changed.
Bank Palestinians are -- and are known to be -- the most privileged refugees in
the world. They are not running; they do not have to. Unlike Syrians, no one is
dropping barrel bombs on them, starving them, or refusing them entry -- as
Jordan does with Palestinians among the refugees from Syria. The West Bank
Palestinians have homes, food, jobs (often with Israeli companies that pay three
times the prevailing Palestinian West Bank wages), education, political parties,
seats in parliament, and relative security. Gazans are different, but Israel
ensures that they have the basics.
are irrelevant in the world, except that they suck up a vastly disproportionate
share of the world's aid
money, which has allowed the PA to create a bureaucracy that even
is corrupt and unresponsive.
Mahmoud Abbas's jeremiad, accusing Israel of "crimes," but without
actually citing any.
to attempt relevance, Abbas used the U.N. pulpit to incite his followers -- with
false claims -- to violence against the Jews. Now in the 11th year
of his four-year term, he threatened to quit. He threatened to torch the Oslo
Accords. But, in the end, the Palestinians have been heard already, and the
discussion has moved to the hundreds of thousands of migrants sailing and
marching to Europe, demanding food, housing and money.
is in this context, dismayingly, that members of the U.S. Administration are
lining up to restart the "peace process." After reports that Secretary
of State John Kerry had scuttled a meeting between Abbas and Prime Minister
Netanyahu, a senior American official told the
Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, "The secretary is interested in
reengaging on the issue. He is talking to a full range of experts and
stakeholders to better understand the options as part of our ongoing policy
reviews" have also been heard already. The parameters never change. The
absence of progress is owed to the absence of a shared goal toward which both
parties can be induced to work. The Palestinians seek three things:
seeks three different things:
the Palestinian flag at the UN makes some people very happy and others less so,
but it is clear that it was only symbolic. The impossibility of finding a shared
goal is clear from the first priority on each side -- before the questions of
boundaries; Jews living in Palestine; security control of the Jordan River
Valley; demilitarization; Jewish refugees from Arab countries and their
descendants; or settlement of the Arab-Israel dispute, which is separate from
the Palestinian-Israeli dispute.
Obama administration is watching the disintegration of Sunni Arab culture in
Iraq, Syria, and Libya. The millennia-old Christian minorities are gone or
fleeing. The foundations of Lebanon, Jordan, Tunisia, Mali, and Nigeria are
shaking. Turkey is pursuing its old vendetta against the Kurds. Russia, in
addition to its new Iran-Shiite-Russian axis, evidently blessed by Obama, may be
pursuing its old vendetta against Sunni Turkey -- successor to the Ottoman
Empire that committed genocide against Christian Armenians, cousins of Slavic
Christians. Russia is also pursuing Chechens who gravitate to ISIS for arms and
training to take back to Chechnya to restart the Muslim wars in southern Russia.
Saudi Arabia is bombing Yemen; Egypt is bombing Libya on occasion, as well as
the Iranian-supported Sunni jihadists in Sinai. Sunni Hamas and Shiite Hezbollah both take
funding, training, and direction from Shiite Iran.
sweeping convulsion also has been with us before. After a century, Sykes-Picot
is being overtaken by events, with should-have-been-anticipated results. Strong
governments are needed to resist guerrilla warfare or colonial wars of
occupation; but overthrown strongmen in the Middle East have been replaced by
chaos, which serves only the forces of war, and a vacuum that seems to be filled
enthusiastically by Russia and Iran.
Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian nationalism appear have outlived their moment. For the Obama administration now to pursue a Palestinian state, at the expense of Israel, already under daily explicit and lethal threats from Iran -- re-empowered by the prospect of $150 billion followed by legitimate nuclear weapons soon -- would likely be seen by both sides as nothing more than a shiny new distraction for the benefit of the U.S. negotiators' vanity, nothing more.