It's doubtful there's been a Palestinian leader that has been dismissed so much and so often by Israel as Mahmoud Abbas has been.
He's the "leader of the Mukataa," he's weak, he doesn't even rule over half his people, he's not charismatic, he is incapable of delivering the goods.
But Abbas is schooling us all. He made a decision to reject violence, and he has been upholding it for years.
He rejected Ehud Olmert's peace initiative, didn't move an inch towards John Kerry, he formed a unity government with Hamas and was still able to get closer to international recognition than any other Palestinian leader before him.
John Kerry, in a message from Beirut, rushed to congratulate the new Palestinian government, breaking a promise he made to Israel.
Why is this happening? David Ben-Gurion's great wisdom, and that of some of his successors, was in understanding the need for international legitimacy.
He said "Um-Shmum" (a phrase dismissing the UN), but he did the complete opposite.
Israel bloomed and prospered exactly because it always said yes. The Arabs went from one low point to the next, exactly because they always said no.
Now, the roles have reserved. Netanyahu, the master of "hasbara" (PR), has managed to brand himself as a naysayer. Abbas, on the other hand, managed to brand himself as the leader of the peace camp.
The Palestinian unity government carries on with Abbas' smart approach. There is not even a single Hamas minister in it, and it declared right off the bat that it is accepting the Quartet's conditions (recognizing Israel, rejecting violence, recognizing previous agreements).
In response, Israel is considering new actions against the Palestinian Authority.
To complicate matters, Israel is trying to set Congress against the White House, and, on top of that, plans to build 1,500 additional housing units.
Foolishness in its full glory. The entire world is going in one direction, Israel is going the other way.
International legitimacy is not something you lose in a day, you have to make a lot of moves. We had enough of those in the past year, there's no need to add any more.