WASHINGTON — While diplomatically inconvenient for the Western powers, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' attempt to get the United Nations to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state has elicited widespread sympathy.
After all, what choice did he have?
According to the accepted narrative, Middle East peace is made impossible by a hard-line, Likud-led Israel that refuses to accept a Palestinian state and continues to build settlements.
It is remarkable how this gross inversion of the truth has become conventional wisdom.
In fact, Benjamin Netanyahu brought his Likud-led coalition to open recognition of a Palestinian state, thereby creating Israel's first national consensus for a two-state solution.
He is also the only prime minister to agree to a settlement freeze — 10 months — something no Labor or Kadima government has ever done.
To which Abbas responded by boycotting the talks for nine months, showing up in the 10th, then walking out when the freeze expired.
Last week he reiterated that he will continue to boycott peace talks unless Israel gives up — in advance — claim to any territory beyond the 1967 lines.
Meaning, for example, that the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem is Palestinian territory.
This is not just absurd. It violates every prior peace agreement.
They all stipulate that such demands are to be the subject of negotiations, not their precondition.
Abbas unwaveringly insists on the so-called "right of return," which would demographically destroy Israel by swamping it with millions of Arabs, thereby turning the world's only Jewish state into the world's 23rd Arab state.
And he has repeatedly declared, as recently as last week in New York: "We shall not recognize a Jewish state."
Nor is this new. It is perfectly consistent with the long history of Palestinian rejectionism. Consider:
* Camp David, 2000. At a U.S.-sponsored summit, Prime Minister Ehud Barak offers Yasser Arafat a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza — and, astonishingly, the previously inconceivable division of Jerusalem.
Arafat refuses — and makes no counteroffer, thereby demonstrating his unseriousness about making any deal. Instead, within two months, he launches a savage terror war that kills a thousand Israelis.
* Taba, 2001. An even sweeter deal — the Clinton Parameters — is offered. Arafat walks away again.
* Israel, 2008. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert makes the ultimate capitulation to Palestinian demands — 100 percent of the West Bank (with land swaps), Palestinian statehood, the division of Jerusalem with the Muslim parts becoming the capital of the new Palestine.
And incredibly, he offers to turn over the city's holy places, including the Western Wall — Judaism's most sacred site, its Kaaba — to an international body on which sit Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
Did Abbas accept?