The PA has come up with the most interesting idea in months to advance the prospects of a just settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: unilateral declaration of Palestinian state within 1967 borders with the approval of the UN Security Council. To that end, the Palestinians have appealed to the U.S. and Europeans to support their concept. Never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity, both have failed the test:
…The Palestinians have put forward a plan to seek United Nations Security Council recognition for a Palestinian state in the lands won by Israel in 1967 without Israeli agreement. Palestinian officials said they have announced the idea in an attempt to break the impasse in peace talks.That initiative suffered a setback on Tuesday…Carl Bildt, the foreign minister of Sweden, which holds the European Union presidency, was not encouraging. He told reporters in Brussels on Tuesday that a bid for international recognition of a state not yet formed would be “somewhat premature.”
The United States and Israel have already signaled their disapproval of the Palestinian initiative. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said on Monday that the United States supports “a Palestinian state that arises as a result of a process between the two parties.” The prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, has warned that a unilateral move by the Palestinians would “unravel” existing agreements.
I’d like to ask Mr. Kelly how and when a Palestinian state can arise out of a process of negotiation when Israel doesn’t want such a process or an outcome and does everything in its power to prevent it from happening AND the U.S. administration appears powerless to do anything to stop it?
The beauty of the initiative is that it bypasses the obstinacy and recalcitrance of the Netanyahu government and immediately places it under enormous international pressure to be more forthcoming. And even if it refuses, pressure will gradually mount as the incipient Palestinian state gains added support and legitimacy over time. It will serve the purpose of gradually eroding the general Israeli position and the Occupation itself.
What are the alternatives? Here is an example of what we can expect from Israel behaving with impunity in the face of feeble U.S. and EU opposition:
U.S. ‘dismayed’ at Israel plan to build 900 homes beyond Green Line
The plan – named “Gilo’s western slopes” – will account for a significant expansion of the neighborhood. The planned 900 housing units will be built in the form of 4-5 bedroom apartments, in an effort to lure relatively well-off residents.
The plan was initiated by the Israel Land Administration, and has received an initial green light, but on Tuesday the authorization was finalized.
The additional housing units are only part of the planned expansion of Gilo. In fact, the majority of apartments slated to be built in Jerusalem in the coming years will be located in Gilo. Other building plans in various stages of approval include some 4,000 new housing units in Gilo and adjacent areas.
We could view this as a comic opera with Israel trotting out new settlements whenever it wants to step on the toes of any party having enough temerity to suggest an approach disfavored by that nation. But it isn’t comic when it destroys the chances of a viable Palestinian state and continues the murderous status quo. I think we have to declare Israel persona grata in the international community. Unless the world becomes serious, Israel will never learn a lesson other than obduracy.
This will mean the Obama administration will have to stop with half measures like settlement freezes. It will have to go to final status negotiatons and threaten Israel with withholding economic and military aid as Joe Klein suggested last week in Time. While they’re at it, it would an added statement if the administration directed the IRS to review the tax-exempt status of the numerous pro-settler American Jewish fundraising operations funding Judean militias which murder Palestinians.
Mr. Obama: it’s time to put up or shut up.