I was at the United Nations two weeks ago when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas spoke at the 60th anniversary of UNRWA, and his performance was thoroughly empty and unimpressive. Abbas is a spent force, lacking both serious legitimacy and perceptible impact. He hangs on to some thin threads of credibility from his long association with Yasser Arafat and the Fateh leadership from the days when they represented a Palestinian national strategy, and mattered, because they had some self-respect. This is no longer the case, sadly.
I was not surprised, therefore, at the news a few days ago that Abbas had succumbed to Israeli and American pressure to defer consideration of a resolution by the United Nations Human Rights Council on allegations that Israel had committed war crimes in its attack on Gaza last year, as stated in the investigation headed by respected international judge Richard Goldstone.
The Palestinian presidency has become an international embarrassment. It generates no respect among the four principal constituencies where it should matter: the Palestinian people, the Israeli people and government, the Arab people and governments, and the rest of the world. It is shocking — unbelievable, in fact — that Abbas should have been able in the past five years to totally waste away the last bits of credibility and respect that Yasser Arafat had left him.