Mahmoud Abbas has pre-empted Bibi Netanyahu’s U.S. visit and May 24th address to a Joint Session of Congress with an eye-opening op-ed in today’s N.Y. Times. There is some interesting material in it. But the money quote is this:
Palestine’s admission to the United Nations would pave the way for the internationalization of the conflict as a legal matter, not only a political one. It would also pave the way for us to pursue claims against Israel at the United Nations, human rights treaty bodies and the International Court of Justice.
What he’s saying is that recognition of statehood by the UN would allow Palestine and its world supporters to ratchet up pressure on Israel considerably. This might include imposing sanctions on Israel for continuing an illegal Occupation of a sovereign state’s territory. This could go a very long way toward strengthening the BDS movement as well. It might include prosecution of war crimes cases against IDF officers and Israeli leaders as hinted in the Goldstone Report. The sky’s the limit.
This in turn might place pressure on Israel’s leaders to be more flexible in the positions they adopt in peace talks. When faced with a choice of recognizing a Palestinian state and withdrawing to 1967 borders, this might seem more palatable than spending a few years awaiting trial at the Hague. Israel’s generals and leaders, not particularly known for their selflessness, would likely prefer self-preservation to standing on principle and refusing a peace deal if it meant they might spend some of the best years of their lives in a prison cell.
The reverse may be true as well, as some Palestinian militant leaders might find it far more convenient to soften their militancy and political demands rather than being called to the Hague to explain their own attacks on Israeli civilians.