Sunday, September 4, 2011

US's Pathetic Efforts to Stop Recognition of a Palestinian State

For months, it's been well known that the Palestinian leadership is planning to have recognition of a Palestinian state put to a vote in the UN General Assembly.  For months, the Netanyahu government has been gearing up a diplomatic offensive to try to convince any and all to vote against this.  For months, it's been obvious that the Israelis didn't have a chance in hell of accomplishing that.

And for months, the Obama team - led by Israel's best lawyer, the seemingly ineradicable Dennis Ross, playing the role of fair and honest broker - has been agonizing over this predicament, imploring its allies to oppose the Palestinians, and now - as this piece in the NYT reports - working feverishly to find just-the-right-words of an agreement that will forestall the Palestinians' resolve by convincing them that, yes, you can indeed negotiate with Netanyahu . . . . We can find a way, construct a timetable of steps, and meetings, and more steps, and we can meet again.

Senior officials said the administration wanted to avoid not only a veto but also the more symbolic and potent General Assembly vote that would leave the United States and only a handful of other nations in the opposition. The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss diplomatic maneuverings, said they feared that in either case a wave of anger could sweep the Palestinian territories and the wider Arab world at a time when the region is already in tumult. President Obama would be put in the position of threatening to veto recognition of the aspirations of most Palestinians or risk alienating Israel and its political supporters in the United States.   . . . .

Efforts to head off the Palestinian diplomatic drive have percolated all summer but have taken on urgency as the vote looms in the coming weeks. “It’s not clear to me how it can be avoided at the moment,” said Ghaith al-Omari, a former Palestinian negotiator who is now executive director of the American Task Force on Palestine in Washington. “An American veto could inflame emotions and bring anti-American sentiment to the forefront across the region.” . . .  The State Department late last month issued a formal diplomatic message to more than 70 countries urging them to oppose any unilateral moves by the Palestinians at the United Nations. The message, delivered by American ambassadors to their diplomatic counterparts in those countries, argued that a vote would destabilize the region and undermine peace efforts, though those are, at least for now, moribund.

Two administration officials said that the intent of the message was to narrow the majority the Palestinians are expected to have in the General Assembly. They said that and the new peace proposal — to be issued in a statement by the Quartet, the diplomatic group focused on the Middle East comprising the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations — could persuade potential supporters to step back from a vote on recognition, and thus force Mr. Abbas to have second thoughts.

Please, Mr. Abbas, . . . don't buy it.  You've been taken down this road too many times already: sham summits, nice photo-ops, firm handshakes . . . but the Israelis keep expanding those West Bank settlements, and they keep inserting settlers into East Jerusalem, and they keep insisting that you recognize a "Jewish state" that has a 20-percent Arab population, even while they refuse to accede to a truly viable Palestinian state.

Don't buy it, Mr. Abbas.  You've got them all very worried.  And why shouldn't they be?

And when it's all said and done, when the General Assembly agrees - by a resoundingly lopsided vote - to affirm the existence of a Palestinian state, to affirm the legitimacy of Palestinian nationhood, the joy and pride that you and your people will feel will be equaled only by the chagrin of Israel and the US as their isolation on the wrong side of history deepens.  Mr. Obama will wring his hands and speak eloquently of his disappointment, and of how, no matter what, the United States will always have a rock-solid bond with the people of Israel.  His Republican opponents will call down the wrath of Jehovah on the Godless nations of the UN, and on Mr. Obama - that closet Muslim - himself.

Pay them no mind.  The United States has already inscribed its main chapters in the book of history.  It's well into its epilogue.

The future lies with you.

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