Monday, November 16, 2009

Have the UN Security Council Declare a Palestinian State

Isn't this something?  The Palestinians are saying they've had it up to here with the nonsense of the "peace process" (BRAVO!).  Mahmud Abbas is fed up with being run around by both the Israelis and the US, and is saying he won't run for the presidency of the Palestinian Authority - and may even resign and just walk away.  Which means the entire PA may fall apart, which means no handy stooge for Netanyahu to bully - and which means no more inernational donors ponying up money for the PA, no more PA security forces to be paid (because there'll be no money to pay them, or bureaucracy to handle it all) - and which means that the entire mess gets dumped in Israel's lap.

This also means that Obama has a few more balls in the air.  Unfortunate, given the stakes in Afghanistan/Pakistan/Iraq/Iran plus the health-care reform issues, etc. - but Obama has brought this one on himself, by punking out on holding Netanyahu's feet to the fire on the settlement issue, and then for trying to force Abbas to join the US in keeping the Goldstone report from going forward at the UN, and then letting Hillary stand beaming next to Netanyahu and talking about his "unprecedented concessions."  Not your most shining moments, Mr. President.

But now the Palestinians are actually upping the stakes, by pushing for the UN Security Council to recognize officially the independence of a Palestinian state.  Netanyahu's upset, saying
"There is no substitute for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority...any unilateral path will only unravel the framework of agreements between us and will only bring unilateral steps from Israel's side."
Shimon Peres is outraged (his line being, essentially, "What!  If there's an official independent Palestinian state, then what happens to our precious negotiations?"  To quote him,
 "A Palestinian state cannot be established without a peace agreement. It's impossible and it will not work. It's unacceptable that they change their minds every day. Bitterness is not a policy."
  Right.  There was a beautiful line in an essay in Haaretz today, by Akiva Eldar:
For 16 years, the soft murmur of the "peace process" that has been leading nowhere has drowned out the roar of the bulldozers that are deepening the occupation.
That Peres would lugubriously be bemoaning the demise of what's been essentially a sham ever since the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin beggars credulity.

Anyway, The Independent has an excellent report on this new development.  It will more or less demand of an international community that says it wants an independent Palestinian state, "Here's a chance to do something about it."  There's also an interesting parallel between such a course of action by the UN, on the one hand, and the process whereby the new state of Israel was created and recognized in 1948:
 a UN resolution endorsing it in November 1947, the Declaration of Independence by David Ben Gurion in May 1948 and the subsequent swift recognition by the US and Soviet Union.
 Israel's only veto in the Security Council is the one that the US has so automatically cast for it in recent decades.  As The Independent notes, for the US to veto this - if it can get that far, of course - would expose once again the US's extreme bias.  As Palestinian negotiator Saab Erekat noted:
 "We have taken an Arab foreign ministers' decision to seek the help of the international community," Mr Erekat told Reuters, adding that the US and other leading international players would be consulted before any UN move. "If the Americans cannot get the Israelis to stop settlement activities, they should also not cover them when we decide to go to the Security Council," he added.
It will be extremely interesting to see how much traction this proposal develops in the days ahead.  I imagine that, besides the Israelis, the US State Dept is furious that Palestinian leaders are taking matters so much into their own hands.  I can also imagine that Hillary's people will be pushing every guilt button and pressure point they can find to get them to back down.  I hope the Palestinian leaders can hold their ground.  Because it ought to be more than obvious by now that until Mr. Obama and his crew summon the courage to exert real pressure on Netanyahu/Lieberman/Peres et al., the US has nothing for them anymore.

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