He hasn’t stopped playing by the rules, but he is consistently moving towards the goals he set for himself a long time ago. Like with the conditions he made for the direct negotiations with Israel in 2014, this time he is also trying to reach two objectives: Get concessions from Israel on matters which are important to the Palestinian population, and reach a Palestinian state through the international community by bypassing negotiations and concessions to Israel.
Simply put, Abbas has despaired of getting a Palestinian state from Israel through an acceptable compromise. So there are two things he wants from us in order to politically establish himself on the Palestinian street and give him a short-term victory. The first is an end to the settlement construction, and the second is the release of Palestinian prisoners. To be more exact, 30 Palestinian prisoners who have been sitting in the Israeli jail since before the Oslo Accords. He doesn’t expect anything more from us, and doesn’t want anything more.
Why? First of all, because he doesn’t trust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and second, because he is unprepared to pay the price demanded of him - compromising on matters of principle like the right of return for Palestinians. As he does not wish to pay the price, he is prepared to receive a limited achievement from Israel.
Abbas is demanding, on the other hand, that the international community give him what he wants - a Palestinian state - without him having to negotiate or reach a compromise with Israel. Through a radicalized portrayal of the Palestinians' suffering, and maybe even lies, he wants the international community to establish the Palestinian state for him. The important thing in Wednesday's speech was laying down the legal route for imposing the establishment of such a state on Israel.
This route starts with Abbas' claim that Israel legally violated the Oslo Agreements, and therefore the Palestinians don’t have to honor them either. He is not referring to the security coordination which serves both the Palestinians and the Israelis, but to the fact that the Palestinians don’t have to reach their own state through negotiations with Israel, but can take a different route from the one outlined by the Oslo Agreements.
We should pay attention to the fact that Abbas is not saying, 'We won't honor the Oslo Agreements anymore." He is only threatening to do so. This threat is aimed at getting Israel to stop building in the settlements and release prisoners, and at allowing the international community to impose the establishment of the Palestinian state - unilaterally and without negotiations - on Israel.
All his cries of despair, while mostly justified, are aimed at clarifying to the international community why he is helpless, why the UN should protect him and the Palestinians, and why he can't reach an agreement with Israel through negotiations. That's it.
On the one hand, it's not an empty threat, but on the other hand, it's only a threat for now. Abbas may act on this threat if he sees he is not getting what he wants; but that will happen later on.
After all this, one can honestly understand why Abbas turned to the international route in order to reach a Palestinian state. Granted, Israel did not meet some of its commitments under the Oslo Agreement, and the "price tag" activists created the infrastructure for his claim that Israeli terror is equal to Palestinian terror, but that the Palestinians are living under occupation and are therefore morally supreme.
There is no doubt that Abbas is playing the cards in his hands well when he turns to international public opinion. Israel, on the other hand, especially under the two latest Netanyahu governments, is making every possible mistake and playing into his hands. We are allowing him to be the "robbed Cossack" (a villain who robs but complains that he is the one being robbed) and he is using it. It's hard to condemn him for that.