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Noah Feldman

Palestinians Tear Up Treaty and Destroy Reputation

Why would Israel trust Palestinians with a peace deal now?
What's the strategy here?

What's the strategy here?

Photographer: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas told the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday that the Palestinian Authority no longer considers itself bound by the Oslo Accords signed with Israel in 1993. Although he didn't specify the details, there is a legal theory that would entitle one party to withdraw from a treaty: a material breach by the other side.

Whether Israel in fact has breached the Oslo Accords will no doubt be subject to debate. But regardless of whether Abbas has grounds for the withdrawal, he’s making a long-term strategic mistake. Now and in the future, Israelis skeptical of peace will be able to say that Palestinian leadership can't be trusted to make a treaty and stick with it.