The Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership has decided to renew its bid to gain full membership in the United Nations. PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who is scheduled to address the UN General Assembly during its session in New York later this month, is expected to raise the issue of upgrading the Palestinians' status from non-member observer state to full member.
The PA leadership, in other words, wants the world to believe that the Palestinians are ready for statehood and that is why the time has come to recognize "Palestine" as a full member of the UN.
The truth, however, is that neither the PA leadership nor the Palestinian people is ready for statehood. And the responsibility for that fact lies squarely with the ruthless and failed Palestinian leaders.
Before examining and voting on the PA request, the UN member states need to take into consideration a number of factors.
The Palestinian bid to obtain UN recognition of a Palestinian state comes at a time when the PA appears to be losing control over some parts of the West Bank, where gunmen belonging to several groups have replaced the Palestinian security forces. The gunmen, who belong to Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and even Mahmoud Abbas's ruling Fatah faction, are responsible not only for terrorist attacks against Israel, but also the growing scenes of anarchy and lawlessness, especially in the areas of Nablus and Jenin in the northern West Bank.
Abbas has no desire to confront the militiamen as long as they do not pose a direct threat to his regime. The presence of the gunmen on the streets makes Abbas's government and security forces appear fragile in the eyes of many Palestinians, but these men are at least not trying to topple him. Abbas has nothing to worry about as long as the terrorist attacks are directed only against Israelis.
Abbas also seems to be afraid that if he orders his security forces to crack down on the gunmen, he will be denounced by his people as a "traitor" and "puppet" in the hands of Israel. Abbas is well aware that the gunmen are viewed by the Palestinian public as heroes because of their attacks against Israelis.
Abbas himself has long been praising and glorifying Palestinians who carry out terrorist attacks against Israel. Earlier this month, he again voiced support for Palestinians imprisoned by Israel for their involvement in terrorism.
Referring to the prisoners, Abbas said: "These prisoners are heroes and symbols of the Palestinian people. We are proud of them."
Abbas is not going to send his security officers to arrest or disarm the same gunmen that he hails as "heroes." He knows that the moment he does so, the Palestinian public will revolt against him.
Abbas, who is unable (and unwilling) to rein in a few hundred gunmen in two major Palestinian cities in the West Bank, wants the United Nations, its member states and the rest of the world to believe that he is ready to run a state of his own.
If Abbas cannot send his officers to confiscate an M-16 rifle from an unruly gunman in Jenin or Nablus, how can he be trusted to prevent the future Palestinian state from turning into a launching pad for more regional terrorism.
Does anyone seriously think that Abbas or any other Palestinian leader would deploy troops along a border with Israel to stop terrorist attacks?
Does anyone seriously think that Abbas and his PA cronies would survive for one day if Israel's security forces, which protect Abbas from his own people, were to leave the West Bank?
Abbas and his men will undoubtedly lose their homes (and also possibly their lives) to the Iranian-backed Hamas and PIJ terrorist groups. Public opinion polls have already indicated that a majority of the Palestinians prefer Hamas, the group that seeks the elimination of Israel, to Abbas and his corrupt and fragmented Fatah faction.
Abbas wants the UN to grant the Palestinians the status of full member state, but cannot provide any guarantees that the aspired-for state would not be turned into a terror entity that is armed and funded by Iran's regime and its proxies.
The UN state members also need to take into consideration the fact that Abbas and the PA were expelled from the Gaza Strip by Hamas in 2007. Since then, Abbas has lost control over the two million Palestinians living in the Hamas-controlled coastal enclave.
Abbas wants the UN to recognize "Palestine" as a state when he literally has no control over half of the Palestinians living in within the pre-1967 lines (West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem). If Abbas dares to go to the Gaza Strip, Hamas will hang him at the entrance to the area on charges of "collaboration" with Israel.
Just last week, Hamas executed, by firing squad and hanging, two Palestinians convicted of "collaboration" with Israel.
Hamas leaders and officials have repeatedly accused Abbas and the Palestinian Authority leadership of "treason" because of the security coordination between the PA security forces and Israel in the West Bank. Abbas, who wants the UN to believe that he is worthy of running an independent and sovereign state, is set to meet the same fate as the two unfortunate "collaborators" who were executed by Hamas.
Abbas is seeking full UN recognition at a time when he continues to block general elections for the PA, arrests and intimidates his political opponents, refuses to share power with other Palestinians and muzzles freedom of expression.
The last time the Palestinians had a parliamentary election was in 2006, when Hamas won the vote. The last PA presidential election was held a year earlier, which means that the 87-year-old Abbas is now in his 17th year of his four-year term in office.
The Palestinians do not have a functioning parliament or a free and independent media. Yet, Abbas thinks that this is the right time to apply for UN recognition of a Palestinian state. The Palestinians are divided into two rival entities (in the West Bank and Gaza Strip) and still Abbas wants he world to believe that they are ready for statehood.
The PA security forces' control over the northern West Bank is rapidly eroding, but that does not seem to bother Abbas or stop him from trying to persuade the UN to support his statehood bid.
Abbas's renewed attempt to obtain full UN membership also comes at a time when the battle of succession in the Palestinian leadership is heating up.
Abbas's decision to promote his top confidant, Hussein al-Sheikh, to the influential job of PLO Secretary-General is being challenged by several veteran leaders who are opposed to the move and who see themselves as natural successors to Abbas.
Abbas is going to the UN amid growing tensions and disputes among the top leaders in Ramallah, the de facto capital of the Palestinians. Abbas has already signaled that he would like to see al-Sheikh replace him as president. Abbas's opponents are saying in private quarters: "Over our dead bodies."
This power struggle does not bode well for the future of the PA leadership or the Palestinian people, especially in light of increased talk about a possible civil war in the post-Abbas era.
This means that the Palestinian state that Abbas wants the UN to recognize will be unstable and plagued with violence and bloodshed from the infighting among Abbas's cronies and the ongoing power struggle between his Fatah faction and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
More than they need a state, the Palestinians need good leadership. They need to rid themselves of the corrupt leaders who have deprived them of international aid and led them from one disaster after the other since the early 1970s, when the PLO was expelled from Jordan for undermining the kingdom's sovereignty.
Since then, the Palestinians' biggest tragedy by far has been failed leadership and more failed leadership. It radicalizes them toward Islamic fundamentalism and deprives them of elections, freedom of expression and international aid. The UN member states would be doing a great service to the Palestinians if they asked Abbas about the absence of freedom of speech and a functioning parliament under his regime.
They would also be doing the Palestinian people a huge service if they asked Abbas about torture in Palestinian Authority prisons and the continuing crackdown by his security forces on human rights activists and journalists. And they definitely need to ask him what measures he has taken to end financial and administrative corruption in the PA.
These issues are more pressing for the Palestinians than another worthless document by the UN recognizing a fictitious Palestinian state that is already marked by the intrusion of other brutal radical Islamist dictatorships.
Khaled Abu Toameh is an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem.