That wasn’t Benjamin Netanyahu speaking. That was Congress speaking.
Mahmoud Abbas had a plan. Ignore Netanyahu. Go to the UN General Assembly. Get a vote purportedly recognizing a Palestinian state. Then use that vote to leverage international pressure on Israel.
The iffy bit of the Abbas plan was always that fourth step. There have been no shortage of anti-Israel UN General Assembly votes over the years, most famously the 1974 “Zionism is racism” vote. But those votes did not cause the US or the Europeans or other important players to change their policy to Israel. Why would one such vote more?
The point about September was always: it would be one more harassing non-event in a long history of harassing non-events – unless the US decided to treat it as something more.
So September was always a mind-game against the US. The vote would matter only if the US agreed that it mattered.
In his Thursday speech on the Middle East, President Obama decided to agree. The Abbas mind game had worked on him. By any objective , rational measure, it ought to be Abbas who feels a sense of urgency about reaching an agreement with Israel. It’s his people who suffer most from the continuation of the conflict, his people who have most to gain from a permanent peace with Israel. Yet Obama agreed to accept this concocted deadline as a real source of pressure on himself.
Congress’ reception of Netanyahu doused the Obama speech with ice-water realism.
After the September vote, the Palestinians will demand that Israel retreat from the fence to the 1967 lines – that Israel remove soldiers from outposts inside the 67 lines – that Israel allow land traffic into the West Bank and sea traffic into Gaza -and a thousand other incidences of statehood. There’s only one force on earth that can make Israel do those things if Israel doesn’t want to. And that force just cheered and cheered the man who won’t want to.