The respective speeches by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the UN General Assembly last week are a reflection of exactly why – recent political turmoil aside – Israel is a thriving, successful country, while Palestinian national aspirations languish in the doldrums.
For all of Netanyahu’s failings since his return to the premiership, he delivered a positive message of hope. And while that future also depends on the domestic woes of which he is at the centre being resolved, to the world at least he outlined a forward-looking ambition for Israel and the Middle East region.
Abbas, meanwhile, spewed the same old and tired diatribes, proving yet again that in the 18th year of his four-year term as leader, he has utterly failed his people.
There was no vision, only grievance. There was no ambition, only finger pointing and blame.
He said Israel does not believe in peace despite its offers of 2000, 2001 and 2008, the latter of which he himself “rejected out of hand”, and despite his own refusal since 2014 to even come to the negotiating table.
He repeated the same lies about Israel being a “colonial occupation”, “entrenching apartheid” and violating holy sites in Jerusalem.
And while certain far-right elements within the current Israeli government may be racist – not the government as a whole as he charged – this is the same Abbas that recently said Hitler had Jews slaughtered en masse due to their “social role” as moneylenders and repeated the discredited conspiracy theory that Ashkenazi Jews are descended from the Khazars.
Alas, we have come to expect such hypocrisy from Abbas. And it seems others in the region too are tiring of his antics.
Also last week, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman historically and publicly stated that “every day we get closer” to normalising ties with Israel, despite Abbas’ protestations.
Israel will of course have to make concessions to the Palestinians as part of any deal with the Saudis – but if and when that happens – the backwards Abbas will not be able to take any of the credit.
Stuck in the past, the ineffectual Palestinian Authority President will have been a hopeless bystander to a truly historic moment.