By Amnon Lord
The main subject of Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas’ address to the United Nations General Assembly last week was yet again the International Court of Justice and the entire arena of international law. Contrary to what many legal experts say, lawfare is an incredibly effective strategy, sometimes even deadly.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says he will not meet with Abbas, but the Palestinian “president” — who has no legitimacy whatsoever, since one cannot even remember the last time that the P.A. had parliamentary elections — has one card left, and that is the international lawfare movement, which former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger called “unprecedented.”
At the original Durban conference, 20 years ago, lawfare was recognized as a major means of isolating and delegitimizing Israel, with its ultimate goal being the elimination of the Jewish state. As American historian Alex Grobman put it, lawfare is “a cynical manipulation of the rule of law and the humanitarian values it represents.”
Instead of working to achieve victories on the battlefield (or in the political-electoral arena), some use lawfare to eliminate the will to fight by undermining public support, which is crucial for any democratic society whose military is going out to war.
Moreover, in current times, groups like Hamas are succeeding at using this strategy to achieve their operational goals. In short, the principle is to subject international policies to legal proceedings, with Israel being the biggest victim of all.
Just recently, Hamas managed to turn a minor real-estate dispute in Sheikh Jarrah into a pretext for firing hundreds of missiles at the Jewish state, accompanied by cheers and applause from some U.S. Democrats.
Last Friday, Abbas gave Israel a one-year ultimatum to withdraw from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and eastern Jerusalem.
It also seems that Abbas is starting to communicate with those who are willing to meet with him. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid recently published a peace plan under the guise of rehabilitating the Gaza Strip, which includes strengthening the P.A.’s international standing, its regaining control of the Strip and the transportation project that will split the Negev in half via infrastructure going from Gaza to P.A. territories.
Regardless of Lapid’s achievements in Sweden, the United Arab Emirates or Morocco, the Bennett-Lapid government has lost the political momentum of the Netanyahu era. All political matters in the government are based on the status quo — on remaining still. Abbas emphasized in his speech the need to return to a pre-Trump era.
In reality, former U.S. President Donald Trump’s plan was the most realistic one with regard to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. By removing himself from the game, Bennett does not even have the option of blocking a political ball. The person actually in charge of the game is Lapid, and the ball is in his court.
Amnon Lord is an Israeli journalist. This first appeared in Israel Hayom.