Alan Baker
Alan BakerDavid Hochberg

Ambassador Alan Baker, who currently serves as director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, on Sunday downplayed in an interview with Arutz Sheva the ultimatum issued to Israel by Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas during his speech before the UN General Assembly.

In the speech, Abbas threatened to rescind the PA’s recognition of Israel if it does not withdraw from Judea, Samaria, Gaza and eastern Jerusalem within a year.

"I do not know who writes his speeches, but as a past and present professional who prepares background material for our leaders' speeches, I write what is correct and what is true so as not to embarrass the leader who is speaking. Whoever writes Abbas’ speeches either does not understand anything or is interested in embarrassing Abbas in the international arena," Baker said, adding, "Mahmoud Abbas' popularity among his people is at such a low, that the only place which keeps him as a leader is the UN, so he tries every year to come to the UN General Assembly with ridiculous statements that have nothing in them besides an attempt to grab some international headlines."

"[Abbas] himself signed an agreement with Israel, that he and the Israelis recognize each other's historical rights and undertake to negotiate a permanent settlement, meaning that he recognized that there was a dispute between us and he is obliged to negotiate a permanent agreement that would also include a discussion on issues like Jerusalem, settlement, economic relations, security, water and refugees. All these things are on the negotiating table, so as long as this agreement, the Oslo Accords, exists and is in force, he cannot deny its existence," continued Baker.

Asked whether Abbas cannot claim that the Oslo Accords were supposed to be concluded within five years and since nothing has progressed since then, he is transferring the decision to an international legal tribunal, Baker replied, "This is true, but neither side has found it appropriate to formally declare that these agreements are null and void. This happens because these agreements are the basis for Abbas’ existence, even though there were no elections and [the Arabs] violate the agreement in many respects. This agreement is the source of the PA and its leadership. As soon as he says that these agreements are null and void, he effectively abolishes his very existence and allows us to do as we please according to our security and political interests."

Abbas, noted Baker, "does not distinguish between the International Criminal Court, which prosecutes individuals, officers or leaders, for war crimes, and another court in The Hague, the International Court of Justice, which rules on issues between countries requesting legal opinions on international issues from UN institutions. Israel has revoked all consent to be tried in this court, among other things because judges from Israel are not able to apply to be judges there. Abbas’ speechwriter is unfamiliar with this, so they write nonsense for him and he thinks that if he threatens every two weeks that he will take us to the court in The Hague, the Israelis will be scared."

On the question of whether it is right for the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister to ignore Abbas’ threats, Baker replied, "On the one hand Abbas is making fun of himself and no one takes him seriously and he can be ignored, but on the other hand the Prime Minister has an opportunity to reply and show that he does not understand the details, to tell him 'You are threatening to go to the court in The Hague but you do not return to negotiations. You incite terrorism, you support BDS which is a violation of the Oslo Accords, and in addition there is no unity within you, no common ground between you and Hamas and therefore you cannot come clean and present yourself as the representatives of the Palestinian people. Get your act together at home and say you are ready for negotiations, but in the meantime do not threaten or talk nonsense in the international community.'"