In an uncharacteristically bold move for an otherwise grey figure, Mahmoud Abbas announced today that he would move for Palestine’s full membership in the United Nations with a vote in the Security Council. This poses a huge headache for the Obama administration, whose torn and tattered Mideast policy is coming under increasing scorn from Arab nations and those of the rest of the world as well. No doubt, the U.S. will veto a resolution in support of a proposition (an independent Palestinian state) it otherwise supports. Added to an earlier veto of a a resolution opposing Israeli settlements (another policy is ostensibly supports), the U.S. response is certain, but ultimately futile.
Abbas’ move for full membership indicates his judgment that Obama’s (and by extension, Israel’s) position is becoming increasing untenable. The tide is turning. The American boat has missed the turning of the tide and is stuck on a sandbar.
Yesterday, I wrote a post analyzing the shibboleths of the anti-statehood camp (i.e. U.S. and Israeli diplomats) and one of them was the supposed certainty of Palestinian violence in the wake of frustrated expectations. Here’s a perfect example of this nonsense from none other than Ethan Bronner and his sidekick, Isabel Kershner. Note here the mysterious, unsourced but always useful reportorial “some,” which through overuse has become accepted wisdom:
Some fear that Mr. Abbas’s move will raise expectations among his people, with nothing changing for them on the ground. Combined with alarmed reactions from Israeli settlers, violent showdowns could erupt.
Who is ‘some?’ Is ‘some’ a real source or a made-up concept in the minds of Bronner and his U.S. and Israeli sources? And if so, by what evidence do they posit that there will be violence? And has their track record in predicting other events been good enough to trust this lame prognostication? “Nothing changing for them on the ground? Nothing’s changed on the ground for the past 20 years, why would they expect anything different on the ground. Where things will change is the Palestinian’s ability to mount offenses on the world stage against Israeli attacks on civilians, settlements, Occupation, etc.
Note as well, that Bronner credits the possibility for settler violence, but not the likelihood for IDF and Border Police violence, which is actually as concerning or even more so given the heightened lethality of the weapons at their disposal. Further, you’d think that the IDF and police could handle settler violence and provocation and repress it if necessary. The fact that Bronner worries that settlers could ignite a contagion indicates less than full faith in the abilities of Israeli authorities to contain violence from their side.
No mention, of course, that the leader of the national Palestinian non-violent protests will be Abu Rachme, who has led the Bilin anti-Wall protests for several years. This movement has historically embraced non-violence, and therefore it will take a huge amount of provocation from the Israeli side to create serious violent disturbances.
I should add that Republican threats to turn off the spigot of U.S. to Palestine should it go forward with the UN vote will not only fail to achieve its desired objective (whatever that is), but it will further isolate the U.S. There will be other countries, no doubt, eager to fill the vacuum that we leave in Palestine. Perhaps Iran, Turkey, any number of states whom we’d be better off preventing from pursuing their interests in this matter (at least from the U.S. perspective). We give them a golden opportunity. So thanks Republicans for doing what you think is a favor for Israel, but which only harms it in the long run.