There are many potential narratives already being conjured up for the Palestinian bid for recognition in September at the United Nations. The Palestinian leadership is going around the world asking for states to vote in favor of recognition with the rights that come with it. The Israelis are doing whatever they can to stop this move, including getting the United States to threaten a veto. At the same time, both are trying to create and control the narrative. The Palestinian leadership is trying to keep itself relevant and legitimate by making this bid. The whole story is Mahmoud Abbas is trying to make it seem like he is legitimately in power, with a mandate to help the Palestinian people and is using this tactic as “a last resort” to force the Israelis into negotiations. The Israelis on the other hand, still stuck in the 1980s, are conjuring up this narrative of Palestinian intransigence and trying to go around the American “honest brokers.”
The thing that both sides do not understand is they are both transparent in their attempts to claim righteousness on this issue. More and more people are seeing the collaborative nature of the Palestinian Authority, an institution whose reign was supposed to be dissolved in 1999. Mahmoud Abbas, everyday is proving his illegitimacy to be the Palestinian leader. In addition to the numerous reasons he is not representative or held accountable to the Palestinian people, his term ended years ago which has been met with consequential delays in elections, since he knows at best he will slide into power because of the patron-client system rife in Palestinian politics. At this point in his career it seems he is more concerned with how he will be remembered and how he will maintain power and goodwill from the Americans, than actually helping the Palestinian people, especially the refugees. Mahmoud Abbas seems to be trying to create this narrative of the lonely Palestinian leader going to his last resort for his people, who are denied their rights. Yet if he were genuine at this symbolic gesture at the UN he would actually create a societal mandate for this. Mahmoud Abbas said some weeks ago, and is commented on in the above article) that Palestinians need to create a popular revolution like other Arab movements after the declaration to ensure success. In addition to his complete void of information on his own people’s popular protests going on, he has done nothing to facilitate or even create an atmosphere for this move. He is simply playing out his political string, acting as if he has the legitimacy to create such a move. Yasser Arafat tried a similar move in 1999 as a political ploy to the Americans, but the difference is he at that time still had some legitimacy to make such a move, unlike Mahmoud Abbas.
The Israelis are the other hand as I said are acting as if this is the 1980s and the old narratives are still viable playing cards. The problem for the Israeli leadership is people have actually read about the subject of Israel-Palestine in the past 30 years and have learned about Israeli hasbara (propaganda) and become akin to recognizing its ridiculousness. More commentators on the subject are writing critically about Israel and seeing through its narrative on most subjects, this one included. Israel is trying to create the narrative of Palestinian intransigence to Israeli peace offers. This narrative has worked for Israel in popular discourse in the Western world from 1948 until 2009-10 unless of course people read any books on the subject, including written by Israelis, and one would know better. The release of the Palestine papers, the larger circulation of critical texts, and the attitude of the Netanyahu government have combined to create a more skeptical public opinion across the world. When Netanyahu refused to extend the settlement “freeze” (” ” for the fact there was no real freeze according to any organization spending one minute examining it) and cited Palestinian political game playing with the subject, many people saw through his hollow narrative. Most people are recognizing the illegality of the vast majority of Israeli maneuvers and not accepting the excuses, which is a pleasant change.
Overall it seems the leadership is completely devoid of reality on both sides. Both are making these grandstand maneuvers to try and legitimize a false narrative they are stuck in. The only hope is the people on both sides of the conflict see beyond these exercises and decided to do something about it.