The interesting paradox involved in the US and Israeli reaction to Mahmoud Abbas’s stunning triumph at the United Nations yesterday is that they simultaneously say that the action was (a) useless and unproductive, and (b) some sort of dangerous violation of the Oslo agreement that threatens Israel. Both notions are absurd.

But Abbas and the Palestinian Authority have taken a major step toward putting the Palestinians on a equal footing with Israel diplomatically and politically.

And they’ve exposed the nihilist, reactionary Hamas and its Muslim Brotherhood allies for what they are: cynical exploiters of Palestinian anger and frustration.

In fact, what Israel most fears is a credible, nonviolent Palestinian interlocutor that has the support of the rest of the world in facing down Israel’s provocations, expansionism, and Jewish triumphalism.

The United States stands isolated, once again, with world powers such as Palau and Micronesia joining it and Israel in voting against the UN’s recognition of Palestine. France, Italy and other European powers voted with the 138-nation majority, and Britain and Germany—demonstrating an utter lack of courage—abstained.

Palestinians, including those in the West Bank and Gaza, seem clear-eyed about the victory. They recognize that it doesn’t mean that things will change instantly. But the vote puts the United States, and the Obama administration, on notice that it’s long past time for serious diplomatic attention to the Israel-Palestine impasse, and President Obama is perfectly positioned to use his second term to squeeze Israel a lot harder. That said, it’s by no means a sure think that Obama agrees. Still, he doesn’t have to worry about the Jewish vote in Florida any longer, and anyway he won the vast majority of Jewish votes once again—as Democrats always do.

Now Israel will threaten to dissolve the PA and cancel the Oslo agreement, and otherwise rant and rave. Members of Congress, especially right-wing Republicans in the House, will seek to defund the PA.

Netanyahu was beside himself, sputtering:

The world watched a defamatory and venomous speech that was full of mendacious propaganda against the Israel Defense Forces and the citizens of Israel. Someone who wants peace does not talk in such a manner.

And Susan Rice, the liberal interventionist and Libya warmonger, didn’t bolster her shaky case to become secretary of state by saying this:

Today’s grand pronouncements will soon fade, and the Palestinian people will wake up tomorrow and find that little about their lives has changed, save that the prospects of a durable peace have only receded.

Why have they receded, exactly, Ms. Rice? Because you and the rest of the administration haven’t lifted a finger in three years to help find a solution?

It’s scandalous that Hamas, too, has slammed Abbas for what they apparently believe is the outrageous crime of seeking an accord with Israel. Despite Israel’s efforts to bolster Hamas’s radical street-cred by its assault on Gaza earlier this month, most Palestinians—including those in Gaza, I’d say—are justifiably proud of the PA’s UN victory. Hopefully, Abbas can use that to ju-jitsu the pro-Hamas momentum and bring the radicals to heel in a accord, brokered by Egypt, that unites the Palestinians in preparation for talks.

For more on Hamas, check out Graham Usher's latest piece, "Hamas the Victorious?"