BUT EVEN a person like Abu Mazen may lose patience from time to time.
His by now famous Yekhreb Beitak speech was such a moment.
Yekhreb Beitak means, literally, "may your house be destroyed." In the vast arsenal of Arab curses, it is one of the mildest. It could be rendered as "Goddamn." (In modern Hebrew, we woefully lack curses, so Hebrew-speaking Israelis have to borrow their curses from Arabic and Russian.)
By all standards, Donald Trump can drive anybody mad. But for Palestinians, he deserves far more extreme curses.
For many decades now, the United States has posed as the impartial arbiter between Zionist Israelis and Arabs. President after president has presented Peace Plans and organized Peace Initiatives, but nothing ever came of them. (Both the Egyptian-Israeli peace initiative and the Oslo agreement were hatched behind the back of the Americans.)
The reason is quite simple: the US has millions of Jewish voters, nearly all of whom are ardent Zionists. After doing nothing at all to save the European Jews during the Holocaust, they are torn by remorse. Arab voters are indifferent.
Therefore, all American presidents, except Dwight Eisenhower (who was so popular that he didn't need the Jewish vote), have been strong supporters of Israel. Since all Israeli governments have rejected the return of the occupied territories, and especially East Jerusalem, American impartiality was a sham.
But Trump is something special. He has appointed an ardent Jewish right-wing Zionist as ambassador to Israel. He has appointed his Jewish son-in-law and some other Zionists as mediators between Israel and the Palestinians. And in the end he has recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and announced that he is going to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv there.
If he had been speaking about "West Jerusalem," the storm would have been mild. In practice, everybody agrees with West Jerusalem being the capital of Israel. But Trump spoke about Greater Jerusalem, only hinting that in some indefinite future, final borders may be drawn.
It is East Jerusalem, of course, which is the real battlefield. The Israeli government claims it as the birthplace of the Jewish religion, the location of the First and Second Jewish Temples and of the Western Wall (which was a part of the Temple's supporting wall, but not of the temple itself).
Speaking of recognizing "Jerusalem" as part of the Jewish State was a heavy blow at the most profound Arab religious and national beliefs.
When the United Nations drew up the partition plan of 1947, it provided for a Jewish state and an Arab state, but conferred on Jerusalem the status of a separate unit. That was unacceptable to both sides.
Immediately after the 1948 war, when my friends (both Jews and Arabs) and I drew up the first peace plan based on the principle of "Two States for Two peoples," we called for a "United Jerusalem, Capital of the Two States." This is still the only viable solution.
The late Faisal Husseini, the unchallenged leader of the population of East Jerusalem, accepted this principle. There are many photos of us two standing together at demonstrations under this slogan. Abu Mazen accepts it, too.
SO WHAT did Abu Mazen say in his long speech at the Palestinian parliament, apart from the half-joking curse that made the headlines?
Actually, there was nothing new. He confirmed the terms of the "Arab peace plan," to which I, too, agree wholeheartedly.