Walid Awad
Ma'an News Agency (Analysis)
September 20, 2011 - 12:00am

Soon after his inauguration as president of the United States, Barack Obama embarked on important visits to capitals of Arab and Muslim nations.

He made speeches in Cairo and Istanbul to try and persuade Arabs and Muslims to alter their negative views of the US and its policies in the region. To an extent, he succeeded.

American flags were raised and even embraced by Libyan demonstrators, and US flags are no longer burned when Arab masses demonstrate to demand freedom and liberty.

Meanwhile, in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to accommodate any of Obama's concepts, requests or proposals to restart negotiations with President Mahmoud Abbas. This is because, among other reasons, Netanyahu will not sign any peace agreement with Abbas under Obama's watch.

In short, Netanyahu will not help Obama to get re-elected.

Under the circumstances, one should ask why the Obama administration would veto Palestine’s legitimate request to be recognized as a state at the United Nations next week, risking the wrath of the Arab and Muslim nations again, and losing the goodwill Obama succeeded in creating towards the US over the last three years.

Many people are asking this question, as well as analyzing why Israel has objected so vociferously to the move.

However, an even more important question that needs to be answered is this: if President Mahmoud Abbas is certain that the US will veto his request for recognition of the Palestinian state at the Security Council, then why is he doing it?

Why not go to the General Assembly where recognition is almost assured, albeit for a lesser status, with no threat of an American veto?

What will President Abbas tell his people when he comes back empty-handed? He cannot say he did not know the US would veto his request, because Obama and his administration have told him so, repeatedly.

Why risk the wrath of the US Congress, and jeopardize financial and potential political support from the Obama administration?

Is this a miscalculation, or is it a calculated risk? Upon Abbas's return, his people will want to know and will expect satisfactory answers.

Anyone following Abbas's train of thought should know that the man was and still is sincere in his efforts to achieve a peaceful solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Peace negotiations with Israel have been going on for 20 years but so far, peace has eluded Abbas.

The West, be they the Europeans or Americans, has proved unable to budge Israel even one inch towards achieving the desired goal of a peace based on justice.

It is therefore reasonable to expect that the 76-year-old Abbas has had enough.

Going for the jackpot at the UN Security Council and succeeding there is his target.

Should he fail, he will consider the US veto the straw that broke the camel's back. He will have exhausted all his options except one: leave politics and retire. As he has said repeatedly in public, he has no agenda for October.

In such a scenario, instead of coming back from New York empty-handed to be met with the anger of his people, Abbas will have challenged America, exposed its hypocrisy, and thrown the entire Middle East even further into the unknown.

In all probability, after that, the Palestinian National Authority will dissolve, and another Palestine Liberation Organization will arise, a different shape and of different content.


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