On Thursday, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley called out Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for his role in obstructing peace between Palestinians and Israel. In particular, she referred to a recent meeting of the Central Council of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) - the governing body of the Palestinian National Authority - in which they did the following:
- Rejected previous peace treaties related to Israel (Oslo, Cairo, and Washington)
- Rejected recognition of the state of Israel until it agrees to the borders which it had prior to the Six-Day War of 1967 (this would effectively mean that Israel withdraws settlements from the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, and other areas)
- Called for the adoption of the BDS movement and its promotion internationally (this is the anti-Israel “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions" effort to hurt the state of Israel financially and politically)
- Reiterated their previous 2015 decision to stop security coordination with Israel
- Condemned the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (and move its embassy there) and rejected the US’s role in future peace discussions.
Nikki Haley condemned Abbas for allowing these resolutions (among others) to be adopted at the PLO’s Central Council meeting and for failing to exercise real leadership which could lead to peace.
She contrasted Abba’s feckless leadership with previous Middle Eastern leaders who made difficult decisions in order to do what was ultimately best for their people, which is to live in peace and prosperity rather than in perpetual war, held captive by a sense of aggrievement.
In particular, she praised the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat who had once led Egypt’s part in the 1973 Yom Kippur War but later sought peace with Israel. In 1977, Sadat went to Israel and spoke before the Knesset, its legislative body. After recounting the sense of animosity between the Arabs and Palestinians on the one hand, and Israel on the other, he said of his decision to come before them:
But, to be absolutely frank with you, I took this decision after long thinking, knowing that it constitutes a grave risk for, if God Almighty has made it my fate to assume the responsibility on behalf of the Egyptian People and to share in the fate-determining responsibility of the Arab Nation and the Palestinian People, the main duty dictated by this responsibility is to exhaust all and every means in a bid to save my Egyptian Arab People and the entire Arab Nation the horrors of new, shocking and destructive wars, the dimensions of which are foreseen by no other than God himself.... If I said that I wanted to save all the Arab People the horrors of shocking and destructive wars, I most sincerely declare before you that I have the same feelings and bear the same responsibility towards all and every man on earth, and certainly towards the Israeli People.
Towards the end of his speech, Sadat declared:
And I have chosen this difficult road which is considered, in the opinion of many, the most difficult road. I have chosen to come to you with an open heart and an open mind. I have chosen to give this great impetus to all international efforts exerted for peace. I have chosen to present to you, and in your own home, the realities devoid of any schemes or whims, not to maneuver or to win a round, but for us to win together, the most dangerous of rounds and battles in modern history - the battle of permanent peace based on justice.
This “difficult road” is the one that Abbas is not willing to take, and Haley called him out for it. She noted that many believe that Sadat’s speech and work for peace is what led to his assassination in 1981. She also praised the late King Hussein of Jordan who signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.
Haley then questioned:
I ask here today, where is the Palestinian King Hussein? Where is the Palestinian Anwar Sadat? If President Abbas demonstrates he can be that type of leader, we would welcome it. His recent actions demonstrate the total opposite.
NEW: Nikki Haley presses Arab leaders to step up in peace process, asking: "Where is the Palestinian Anwar Sadat?" Note: Sadat was assassinated two years after he signed a peace deal with Israel.
Haley obviously knows this; she referenced it in her speech!
Her point was precisely that true leaders make hard decisions for the sake of those they lead, even (especially?) when those they lead do not yet understand the wisdom of those decisions. True leaders take the “difficult road” trod by Sadat and Hussein, and Haley was chastising Abbas, calling on him to do the same. Not that she needs me to defend her, for her words speak for themselves to anyone who has ears to hear.