Palestine’s premature bid for UN membership

WASHINGTON — Despite last-minute maneuvering on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, the tortuous Israel-Palestinian peace process is set to reach another critical juncture on Friday when the Palestinians submit a bid to seek full UN membership. Although polls indicate widespread support in the international community for a two-state solution and the creation of an independent Palestinian state, several recent developments suggest that the timing of the bid — which President Barack Obama has said the United States will block at the Security Council — could scarcely be worse from the standpoint of almost every stakeholder, including the Palestinians themselves.


Perhaps the most important such development concerns the political dispensation within the Palestinian territories. Hamas’s control of the Gaza Strip — secured by popular mandate through the ballot box — has undermined the legitimacy of the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mamoud Abbas. In fact, the UN bid seems at least partly motivated by Abbas’ attempts to consolidate his domestic constituency. And yet, rather ironically, the Palestinian Authority owes its survival in the West Bank in large part to Israel’s continuing military presence there, which acts as a bulwark against Hamas. Paradoxically, the push for UN recognition that might strengthen Abbas’ position in the short run also threatens this temporary and tenuous alliance of convenience with Israel.


A second and more recent development is the Arab Spring, which has already resulted in the fall of President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and political upheaval in Syria and Jordan. Israelis are deeply worried about populist regimes emerging in these states, which might well be inclined to greater hostility toward Israel. Their fears are not entirely unfounded: relations between Israel and Egypt — which for three decades had remained a powerful stabilizing factor in the region — are now on a downward trajectory, especially following the storming of the Israeli embassy in Cairo two weeks ago. Israel will only be in a position to accept Palestinian independence if it feels secure; the Arab Spring has had the opposite effect.


Third, the United States’ status as an honest broker is in jeopardy, following the Obama administration’s poorly-handled mediation of the issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The United States’ initially strong position on a settlement building freeze angered not just Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but also painted Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas into a corner. In Abbas’ words, “We both went up the tree. After that, [Obama] came down with a ladder and he removed the ladder and said to me, jump.” It’s a far cry from the years when former U.S. President Bill Clinton was seen as an even-handed mediator between then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO leader Yasser Arafat; today, both sides feel that Washington has let them down.


The fourth development involves other external actors. The Quartet — consisting of the United Nations, European Union, United States, and Russia, but represented by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair — has proven largely ineffective as a mediating presence. Despite contributing almost half of all aid to the Palestinian Authority, Europe appears divided on what approach to take, making it harder to forge a common transatlantic policy. Meanwhile, Israel’s relations with other key players in its neighborhood — notably Turkey — have nose-dived, meaning the regional political climate is far from conducive to normalization.


An overarching problem, though, is one of priorities. A two-state solution requires a government in the Palestinian territories that is unified, stable, popularly-mandated, and status quo-oriented, but in contrast to the heady optimism of the days preceding the Second Intifada, the Palestinian Authority today checks only the status quo box. Prematurely seeking international legitimacy at the United Nations is sure to prevent progress towards a viable end state, while the disappointment resulting from a blocked UN bid may yet stoke violence.


The handling of the issue by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority has been remarkably clumsy. Neither side appears to have made adequate preparations for a soft landing after the vote. At the same time, various parties on both sides appear to be exaggerating the importance of this largely symbolic gesture for their own purposes. Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman has warned of unspecified “harsh and grave” consequences, while other Israeli leaders have suggested abandoning the moribund Oslo peace process or annexing parts of the West Bank. Meanwhile, Abbas and many supporters of the Palestinian cause have framed the vote as the ultimate litmus test for the acceptance of Palestinian statehood. The roles, it appears, have reversed. Abbas has climbed down the tree and removed the ladder. And, barring a last-minute face-saving gesture, it is the United States that might have to jump.


Dhruva Jaishankar is Program Officer with the Asia Program of the German Marshall Fund of the United States in Washington, DC. This article is partly based on interviews conducted on a recent visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories supported by the American Jewish Committee.

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I followed the news after the UN debate on the Palestinian demand for their recognition as a member state. I also follwed the two main speaches, that of Abbas and that of Netanyahu both of which made powerful and meaningful speeches. Yet while looking at the running titles I only saw Abbas's citations of him urging Israel to start negociations but not one word of what Netanyahu said and his invitation to strat negociations immediatedly NOTHING as if he wasn't there at all. How low and biased can you get? Abbas also mentioned the so-called Israeli 63 years of occupation, meaning since the establisment of the Jewish state of Israel in 1948. Is it so difficult to understand that he simply considers all of Israel as an illegal occupied territory? But of course this a probably a minor issue that your channel will not bother to mention.
good luck palestine**
Seems like the theme du jour of today's news is summed up quite well by the Economic Editor at BBC News, Stephanie Flanders: "There still seem to be a large gap between what economists and markets say is needed--and politicians are able to provide." It's up to us real people to real-ize that the real world is not just this up and down in the trees.
Araft speech in UN wearing a pistol! --------- Arabs are always using the same tactics! Threatening with violence - getting money from the west- using the money for anti west activities. "" Either you give me what I want or I will be violent "" THE FREE WORLD SHOULD SAY- ENOUGH!! YOU WILL NOT GET OUR MONEY TO USE IT AGAINST US! START BUILD A FUTURE AND LIFE FOR YOUR PEOPLE AND NOT DEATH! ----------------------------------------- Palestinians want international acceptance to statehood and endless conflict continuation: - No difference between Arabs desire in 1947 and 2011. Destroying the Jewish state Only new tactics!(terror,boycode,deligitimization) The difference from 1947: For energy many countries gave up all their moral values! --- In 2011 The Arabs want to get international approval to: *No to a Jewish state! *No to direct negotiations! *No to a peace that will remove the issues for conflict continuation! ----Arabs refused peace in: 1948-1967-1995-2001-2009. Egypt occupied Gaza and Jordan the West bank. They didn’t form a Palestinians state. The Palestinians didn’t demand a state. -- The world need of 58 Muslim states oil combined with the wish to please the Islamism outcome is: --they are ready to give away all the moral values --pay to Muslims with the Israeli coin (remember Czechoslovakia) -- In Arabic language -NOT IN ENGLISH lying to infidels ------------------------------------------------------------------------- *From the PLO platform reaffirmed in the Fatah "The struggle will not stop until the Zionist entity IS ELIMINATED"" * Palestine Ambassador Abdullah Abdullah in Lebanon "The peace talks with Israel are part of ARAB STARTEGY TO ISOLATE ISRAEL and threaten its legitimacy." * Azzam al-Ahmed head of the Fatah negotiating team with Hamas "Fatah has never recognized Israel’s right to exist and WILL NEVER DO SO. Neither Fatah nor Hamas is required to recognize Israel" "--- Hamas charter *"There is no solution for the Palestinian question except THROUGH JIHAD. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors."" *"The Day of Judgment will not come until Muslims kill the Jews. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, COME AND KILL HIM""

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