The old political shibboleth "That may be what I said but it's not what I meant" could well apply to Mahmoud Abbas's UN appearance last month. He gave an impassioned speech from the podium, waiving the formal "Application of Palestine for admission to membership in the United Nations" and declaring his desire to live in peace with the State of Israel.
U.S. diplomats, not only in the Middle East, are "incredibly nervous" that angry pro-Palestinian mobs will attack American embassies and other installations in retaliation for opposing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' application for UN recognition of Palestine, according to Congressional sources briefed by the State Department.
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) -- Argentina has recognized a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, according to a note sent from President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner to Mahmoud Abbas.
Kirchner on Monday sent the note to Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, announcing that her government recognizes Palestine as a free and independent state within 1967 borders and according to what the parties determined during the negotiation process.
As president, GOP longshot contender Alan Keyes says he would be guided by a principle embraced by the most extreme elements of the American Jewish and Israeli society: That Jordan is a Palestinian state, making an entity on the West Bank superfluous.
“Jordan is Palestine,” Keyes told The Jewish Week Tuesday. “The king accepted that when he took responsibility for the Palestinians.” The Palestinian Authority, he said, is “a stateless actor that does not have the wherewithal to make peace.”
Palestinian President Yasir Arafat is planning to use the debates in the 53rd session of the General Assembly that begin here Monday as a platform from which to reaffirm his intention to declare a Palestinian state next year, according to a Palestinian official at the United Nations.
Although Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is slated to address the General Assembly next Thursday — four days ahead of Arafat — Israeli officials expect him to warn that such a move would “destabilize the whole Middle East.”
A delegation of Palestinian negotiators were in town this week for consultations about the long-feared May 4 deadline, when the Oslo interim period expires — and when Yasir Arafat has threatened to unilaterally declare Palestinian statehood.
The Tel Aviv beachfront bombing that killed three Israelis and injured 50 early Wednesday (just five hours after the Palestinian parliament confirmed Mahmoud Abbas as prime minister and approved his cabinet) reinforced the view of many Israeli analysts that little has changed despite earlier optimism.
"It's incredibly funny how people are capable of self-deception, how they can distort realities to suit political hopes and promises," said Uzi Arad, former director of intelligence in the Mossad, Israel's spy service.
This week's clash between Palestinian President Yasir Arafat and Prime Minister-designate Mahmoud Abbas is being seen as Arafat's last-ditch effort to hold onto power, but observers say that in the end it may delay peace efforts and set back Palestinian aspirations for statehood.
"From my reading and the good contacts I have with the Palestinians, they understand how crucial and fragile the situation is," said Yoram Meital, chairman of the Department of Middle East Studies at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
With events in Israel moving at a rapid pace this week (a Jerusalem bus bombing that killed 19, followed by Israel's decision to seize Palestinian land after each new terrorist attack and to accelerate the construction of a fence around the West Bank) questions arose over the wisdom of a new U.S. peace initiative even before it was announced.
"I don't see how it can be made palatable or what contribution it is if both sides are that unhappy [with it]," said Richard Murphy, a former ambassador to Syria and now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.