PLO leaders who met in Ramallah on January 15 recommended that the Palestinians revoke their recognition of Israel.
The recommendation came in response to US President Donald Trump's announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
The PLO leaders also advised their leadership to suspend security coordination with Israel. They also called for revising all agreements signed with Israel, including the Oslo Accords.
The meeting of the PLO Central Council was chaired by President Mahmoud Abbas, who in the past few weeks has chosen to embark on an open collision course with the US administration, possibly in the hope that US Department of State will back down as it always previously has.
Abbas has been in a belligerent mode since Trump's December 6 announcement on Jerusalem. In a speech before the PLO Central Council session, Abbas mocked Trump and hurled abuses at him. Abbas said he hoped God would "destroy" Trump's house. The Arabic Yakhrab baytu means "May his house be destroyed". According to The Guardian, Abbas "did not literally mean the White House or Trump Tower. But its wider sense is unmissable."
Abbas's speech also contained anti-Semitic remarks in which he claimed that Israel was a colonialist project that had nothing to do with Judaism.
Abbas also directed his hate against the Arab countries and those Palestinians who oppose his policies and autocratic leadership.
His hateful remarks against the US administration and Israel reflect the growing state of isolation in which the Palestinian leader recently finds himself.
Although Abbas did not mention the Arab countries by name, it was obvious that he was referring to Saudi Arabia and Egypt when he demanded that the Arab world stop meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians. This was a speech by a leader who feels that he is becoming more irrelevant with every day that passes.
Abbas's anger at the Arab countries stems from his belief that he is being shortchanged by them in his confrontation with the Trump administration and Israel. Abbas, like many Palestinians, feels that the Arab countries have once again turned their backs on their Palestinian brothers and are fed up with the Palestinian leadership's whining and lack of credibility.
Abbas and the Palestinians miss the days of the Obama administration, which they felt was hostile to Israel and constantly sided with them. Abbas must have gotten quite used to sympathetic comments directed toward the Palestinians from the Obama administration. For Abbas and the Palestinians, each time the Obama administration condemned Israel over "settlement construction," those were the good old days – which now seem to have vanished with the arrival of a new president at the White House.
Abbas, in his desperation, hurls abuse -- and in all directions. He has resorted -- again -- to his old strategy of warning us that if his demands are not met, World War III will break out. Abbas would like us to believe that the Palestinian issue should remain at the center of the world's attention – otherwise, there will be bloodshed and violence on the streets of most countries.
Should anyone take Abbas's threats seriously? The answer is simple: No.
Abbas's threat to revoke the PLO's recognition of Israel is meaningless. True, the PLO in 1993 recognized the right of Israel "to exist in peace and security," but this recognition was essentially revoked, as it was never given any teeth in the first place
Since 1993, the Palestinian leadership has been preaching precisely the opposite to its people. It has done everything but persuade Palestinians to recognize Israel's right to exist.
In fact, the Palestinian propaganda machine in the past two decades, since the signing of the Oslo Accords, has been working hard to delegitimize Israel and demonize Jews. The thrust of the Palestinian narrative has been: Israel has no right to exist in the Middle East. Period. The Jews were supposedly dumped there after World War II in compensation for the Holocaust; this is not their land – and this, despite Jews having lived on that land continuously for more than 3,000 years.
In a speech earlier this week, Abbas repeated that message when he denied any Jewish attachment to Israel. He then further reinforced this message by asserting that the Palestinians would never recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
As if that were not clear enough, many of Abbas's officials have been even more honest and emphatic on the issue of refusing to recognize Israel. Osama Qawassmeh, a spokesman for Abbas's Fatah faction, was quoted several weeks ago stating that, contrary to claims, Fatah had never recognized Israel's right to exist.
The whole issue of recognizing Israel's right to exist might sound like a joke when one hears and watches the statements of Palestinian leaders and spokesmen over the past two decades; these are statements that indicate anything but recognizing Israel and a desire to live with it in peace and security.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during at the UN General Assembly in New York, September 20, 2017. (Photo by Kevin Hagen/Getty Images)
Israel has reaped no benefit whatsoever from the PLO's purported recognition in 1993 of Israel's right to exist.
The war to destroy Israel is still in its full force. The Palestinians have not brought up a new generation that recognizes Israel's right to exist; on the contrary, they have brought up a generation that believes in jihad and death, one that denies any Biblical Jewish history or links to the Holy Land.
So when Palestinian leaders threaten to withdraw their recognition of Israel, they are simply lying to themselves and the rest of the world.
They are also lying when they talk about halting or suspending security coordination with Israel.
We have become used to hearing this tall tale. Abbas and his officials make this threat whenever they feel that the world is not surrendering to their demands. A few months ago, Abbas pulled the same trick when he announced that he was halting security coordination with Israel. In the end, it turned out he was bluffing once again.
Abbas knows that the day he stops working with Israel is the day Hamas will "eat him for breakfast" and take over the West Bank. Abbas is well aware that he is in power in the West Bank thanks to the presence of the Israel Defense Forces.
Abbas is banking on the world having a short memory. The statement issued by the PLO Central Council is almost 100% percent identical to a similar communiqué issued by the same body in 2015. Then, the PLO Central Council also recommended revoking recognition of Israel and suspending security coordination. That communiqué remained just ink on paper; it was meant for the purpose of extorting more money from the international community.
More than two years later, Abbas is up to his old antics. The difference is that now he is approaching the 13th year of his four-year term in office. When will he learn? Better yet: When will we learn?
Bassam Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East.