Days after the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the Israeli embassy in Washington D.C. released a heavy-handed video equating Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s expected UN bid for non-member observer status to launching rockets from Gaza and driving a bus full of people off of a cliff.
The video made public on November 22, 2012 is a mélange of news clips and a cartoonish Abbas as the bus driver. The video ends with bus driver Abbas is left with a choice to make: turn left at the green sign that says, “road to peace” and points to a fairytale castle, or turn right towards the blue “United Nations” sign with a “no outlet” sticker that points to a pile of smoking rubble and raining bombs—likely nod to Gaza during Operation Pillar of Cloud.
The video departs from the embassy’s typical holiday Youtube greetings, which are generally single-camera tidings from ambassador Michael Oren. Although the video serves as one of Israel’s stronger public condemnations of the Palestinian move, the Jewish state is backing off from rebuking the resolution in the UN. Speaking to Haaretz an unnamed senior Israeli official said their plan is “lowering the profile” of the bid, continuing, “we examined different ways to react, but eventually the ministers realized that almost whatever we do will hurt Israel.”
The same day that the “President Abbas’ Palestinian Bus: Heading in the Wrong Direction,” video was released, the Israeli embassy in Washington DC also posted on Youtube “A Dinner For Peace: An Open Invitation to Palestinian President Abbas,” which uses the same image of Abbas about to drive the Palestinian people into a ravine of terror. But unlike the first video, the dinner party includes a cartoon President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Prime Ministers Netanyahu and Cameron who are depicted as waiting at the “negotiations table,” for the stalled Abbas who on the road deciding which way to turn.
The message to outsiders is clear: Israel is weighing both isolation from the international community and an unlikely subtle threat of military action if Abbas should continue on the path to statehood. But without any assurances from Netanyahu to halt settlement construction, at this point there is nothing meaningful to be gained in negotiations at “the dinner table.”