Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), president of the State of Palestine and the Palestinian Authority (PA), and chairman of Fatah, the largest Palestinian political faction, is outraged, incensed, disgusted and offended, all at the same time.
President Donald Trump’s declaration in December 2017 that the United States (US) will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and that it will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city was only the tip of the iceberg for Abbas. What brought Abbas to the brink was the international community’s—especially the Arab and Muslim parts of it—reaction.
To the casual onlooker, the international community seemed to speak with nearly one voice – the United Nations Security Council voted 14-1 and the UN General Assembly voted 128-9 – in denouncing Trump’s declaration and supporting the long-standing international consensus on Jerusalem’s status. However, closer observation reveals that the two UN votes only added to the fanfare of grand statements on the issue, with little to correct the path for-ward.
The UN General Assembly resolution text submitted by Turkey and Yemen did not mention the US by name but rather expressed ‘deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem’. This omission was premeditated and is significant; it shrewdly defanged any ability for the resolution to serve as a platform for further action to be taken. The Palestinian side was told loudly and clearly to accept the watered-down version of the resolution or risk the support, albeit moral, of many of its key allies. The Palestinian leadership, in a posture all too familiar, accepted what it could without losing face on this key issue of Jerusalem’s status.