Israel has developed a truly innovative way to avoid bad news. When the most prominent country in the world so far to recognize a Palestinian state sends its president to Palestine to do so, you can magically pretend the event never happened. All you have to do is have a foreign ministry strike. Then your foreign minister can’t rage about the insult as is his wont. The country’s president can’t visit your country to get chewed out for his effrontery (no civil servants available to plan his visit). Without the engagement of the political class, the Israeli media has a perfect excuse to downplay or not even cover the event. Et voila–it never happened.
This is what a foreign ministry official told Ynetnews:
“We are utterly blind to what’s going on.”
I’d have thought blindness, both moral and political, was a chronic condition in the MFA. But apparently it’s striking them particularly hard when the entire working foreign policy apparatus disappears.
I also rather like the MFA’s accusation that the PA is engaged in a “political intifada” to get the world to recognize the new state. That’s a rather cool slogan which I think any Palestinian should be proud to wear on their sleeve.
President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia met on Tuesday with the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, in the West Bank oasis town of Jericho and reaffirmed his country’s support for a Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem.
Palestinian leaders hailed the visit as historic, noting that this was the first time such a high-profile international figure had gone to Palestinian territory independently of a visit to Israel.
Mr. Medvedev, on his first trip to the area as president, was scheduled to visit Israel as well, but that part of his itinerary had to be postponed because of a strike by employees of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. Foreign Ministry officials, striking for more pay and better conditions, said this month that they were unable to prepare for the planned visit.
There are many important aspects to this declaration, among them that Russia is the first nations among the Quartet to endorse Palestinian statehood. I wonder if China won’t be far behind. Both countries enjoy taking opportunities to tweak American policies and this would give them a chance to do so, since the Obama administration has foolishly declared itself unalterably opposed to such “nonsense” (largely at the behest of Israel itself).
Russia’s message comes on top of announcements by a variety of South American nations that they too recognize such a state. Rumors are flying that Spain, under its Social Democratic governing party, may be the first EU country to do so. After that, a number of other EU countries may follow suit. Germany, of course, would be one of the most important and its chancellor’s relations with the Netanyahu government are none too warm. But the Holocaust hangs over Germany perhaps too heavily for it to be an early adopter of this position.
Once a threshold of 40 or 50 countries endorse statehood for Palestine, including among them Russia, China, much of the EU, and virtually all of Latin America, can the Security Council refuse to deliberate the issue as the PA has requested? It will be hard-pressed to refuse. If it doesn’t, that will put the US in the awkward position of vetoing Palestinian statehood in the Security Council. It will not look good for a mediating party to the conflict dousing water on the national aspirations of the Palestinian people.
There is a small chance that all of this is a development that Obama secretly endorses as a cudgel to use against Bibi in his own negotiations with him. In that case, there is again a small possibility the U.S. would allow the Security Council to debate the issue and wouldn’t veto it if it came to a vote. That would be interesting.
Another interesting aspect of Medvedev’s visit and endorsement is that Russia now plays a parallel role in midwiving Palestinian independence that the U.S. once played before the UN Security Council in 1948, when it led the international movement to recognize Israel. We were on the right side of history once, but apparently no longer. I know some of my readers will object to a portion of that last sentence, and with some justification. We can discuss it in the comment thread.