When Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, attends sessions of the United Nations General Assembly, he enjoys many of the trappings of a head of state. He is invited to address other world leaders. Last year, the Palestinian flag was even raised over the United Nations for the first time.
But he is not a head of state, no matter how much he wants to be, and that is the point Mr. Abbas is likely to make in yet another appeal to the world body to help make him one. With so much of the Middle East in turmoil, however, the challenge for Mr. Abbas is to push his cause back to the top of the international agenda amid fresh Palestinian attacks, which he attributes to frustration over Israel’s long occupation of the West Bank.
There are only so many ways to draw attention to his issue — and he has already used many of them. Last year, after aides promised a “bombshell” in his annual speech, he declared that the Palestinians were no longer bound by the requirements of the Oslo peace accords since, he argued, Israel was not abiding by them. In effect, he seemed to be tossing aside two decades of economic, security and other arrangements, which would transform the situation on the ground.
Except that he did not follow through, so it will be harder on Thursday to make any similar statement. Instead, he may use the forum to complain that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, who will address the body the day before, has been an obstacle to peace, accusing him of refusing to meet in Moscow at the behest of the Russians. Mr. Netanyahu has said he will meet the Palestinian leader but only if there are no preconditions.
Mr. Abbas may clarify his own position on such talks. In the past, he has insisted that Israel first freeze settlement construction and release prisoners. But advisers said he had agreed to Russia’s invitation to meet without conditions.
“No conditions. No requirements. No preparations. No nothing,” said Majdi Khaldi, a diplomatic adviser to Mr. Abbas. “He said O.K., and that’s all.”
If that is the case, Mr. Abbas hopes to put Mr. Netanyahu on the spot in the most prominent venue available to a not-quite head of state.
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