On Wednesday, as previously promised, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas delivered a headline-grabbing speech at the United Nations General Assembly. The address was notable not because of Abbas’s penchant for bombast—a trait he shares with his Israeli counterpart—but for its vagaries.
Here is the paragraph that launched a thousand head-scratches (emphasis mine):
Thus, we declare that as long as Israel refuses to commit to the agreements signed with us, which render us an authority without real powers, and as long as Israel refuses to cease settlement activities and to release of the fourth group of Palestinian prisoners in accordance with our agreements, they leave us no choice but to insist that we will not remain the only ones committed to the implementation of these agreements, while Israel continuously violates them. We, therefore, declare that we cannot continue to be bound by these agreements and that Israel must assume all of its responsibilities as an occupying power, because the status quo cannot continue and the decisions of the Palestinian Central Council last March are specific and binding.
Here’s how this was interpreted:
BREAKING: Palestinian leader declares he is no longer bound by agreements signed with Israel.— The Associated Press (@AP) September 30, 2015
But what does it actually mean? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Earlier this year, Abbas entered the 11th year of what was meant to be a four-year term as president of the Palestinian Authority. Throughout his extended term, frustrated by an elusive peace process along with his feuds with both Hamas in Gaza and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Abbas has continued to issue a few threats:
- He would resign as PA president, leaving the Palestinian Authority without a leader.
- He would dissolve the Palestinian Authority and leave Israel to govern the West Bank again.