The Palestinians’ bid for a state at the UN – davka on 29th November

Palestine UN bid

Jerusalem Post’s cartoon of the day

The 29th November is a special date in the Israeli national calendar. As I wrote last year:

known in Israel by that strange quirk of mixing Biblical Hebrew with Anglicised calendar months as Kaf Tet beNovember (the Hebrew letters Kaf and Tet having the numerical equivalent of 20 and 9 respectively).

What is so special about this date you may ask? It is the date when the UN formally declared partition of Palestine (via Resolution 181) into two states – one for the Jews and one for the Arabs (there being no Palestinians in those days).

In that post I condemned the UN for not only not marking the day in recognition of Israeli national rights (what a shocking thought! Please pass the smelling salts) but in holding an International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

This year, following last year’s failed bid to get the UN Security Council to declare a Palestinian state, the Palestinians have taken their bid for a state to the UN’s General Assembly (GA) and UN, being not much more than a dictators’ club with a smattering of western democracies, is gleefully cooperating.

And which day have the Palestinians chosen to make their bid? Why, the 29th of November of course! This way they get a twofer: a Palestinian state (or at least, official observer status for Palestine as a state as opposed to the PLO as its representative organization) – inevitable given the automatic majority of Muslim states, dictatorships and corrupt kleptocracies in the UN’s membership – and they get to steal another piece of Israeli history by claiming the 29th November as their own special day.

In response to this bid, Binyamin Netanyahu says that the UN cannot force Israel to compromise on its security:

With Israel facing a stinging diplomatic defeat Thursday at the UN, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that regardless of how many vote against Israel, “no force in the world will get me to compromise on Israel’s security.”

He also said no force in the world can sever the thousands-year-old tie between the Jewish people and the land of Israel.

Relating to the expected overwhelming support of the world to upgrade the Palestinian status at the UN to that of a non-member state, Netanyahu said that the decision will “Not change anything on the ground. It will not further the establishment of a Palestinian state, but will make it more distant.”

[...]

“Israel’s hand is always extended in peace, but a Palestinian state will not be established without recognition of the state of Israel as the state of the Jewish people, without an end-of-conflict declaration, and without true security arrangements that will protect Israel and its citizens.”

Netanyahu, who said that none of the conditions he reiterated are even mentioned in the Palestinian’s UN resolution, said that peace is only achieved through negotiations, and not by unilateral declarations “which do not take into consideration Israel security needs.”

Netanyahu recommended not being impressed by the applause that will likely be heard later at the UN.

“I remember the international community’s applause that the government of Israel received when it decided to unilaterally withdraw from Gaza,” he said. “We got applause and then rocket fire. We left Gaza, and Iran entered, exactly like what happened in Lebanon.”

Netanyahu said he would not enable another Iranian base to be established, this time in Judea and Samaria, a kilometer away from Jerusalem.

“It does not matter how many will vote against us, there is no force in the world that will cause me to compromise on Israeli security and there is no force in the world able to sever the thousands year connection between the people of Israel and the Land of Israel,” he said.

The JPost editorial explains what is wrong with creating a Palestinian state without negotiations:

Why would Fatah, ostensibly Israel’s most promising and reasonable negotiating partner on the Palestinian side, do its best to blur the differences between itself and Hamas? Because in the distorted reality of Palestinian politics, Hamas, an anti-Semitic, reactionary terrorist organization that tramples human rights, victimizes Gaza’s population and oppresses women and non- Muslims, is viewed as a hero by Palestinians because it continues to call for the destruction of Israel through any means – including suicide bombings and the use of its civilian population as human shields – while Fatah is considered a traitor and collaborator for agreeing – even in principle – to talk peace with Israel.

This explains why – when Hamas and the Islamic Jihad fired rockets at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv – hundreds of Palestinians living in Fatah-controlled places such as east Jerusalem, Ramallah, Nablus and Hebron took to the streets in signs of joy chanting “O Jews, the army of Muhammad is coming after you!”

Until the Palestinian people decide to switch their energies from blind hatred for Israel and the West to self-advancement and self-determination; until Palestinian leaders give up violence and unilateral diplomacy and inspire their people with a vision of peace, prosperity and reconciliation – an end to the conflict will remain unattainable.

Lives will continue to be needlessly lost in pointless military clashes. Foolish diplomatic quests leading nowhere will only push off further the day when Palestinians and Israelis can coexist in peace.

In other words the Palestinians do not so much as want to build a state for themselves as to destroy the State of Israel.

Another Op-Ed in the JPost concurs:

Well before Israel came into control of the remaining territory of the Mandate, the PLO, a terrorist organization, was created in 1964 with the goal of wiping Israel off the map. Hamas, of course, still proclaims this aim openly. The question therefore arises – what has prompted Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the Palestinian Authority, to take a step the Palestinians have spurned for over six decades? Why is he now pushing to have the General Assembly accord the Palestinians the status of non-member observer state?

Abbas, it is clear, has simply shifted gears and has adopted a strategy different from that of Hamas to achieve the same goal. The diplomatic route is, for him, simply a case of war by other means. It is a two-step strategy: The first diplomatic warfare target is Israel’s presence in the territories that came under Israeli rule in 1967 and whose final status and borders are legally still to be determined. Contrary to some unfounded popular assumptions, Security Council Resolution 242 – and even the Oslo accords – left the matter to future determination, and Israeli settlements are premised on strong legal, historic and strategic grounds.

Nevertheless, over the years, and in various forums and the media, the “colonial” nature of Israel’s presence in the territories is taken as a given. Since many of Israel’s supporters inside and outside Israel are critical of the “settlements,” this theme can evoke more support than an immediate frontal attack on Israel’s existence as the homeland of the Jewish people.

Once a Palestinian state with pre-1967 borders – including part of Jerusalem – is not only proclaimed, but endorsed by international bodies dominated by automatic majorities, Israel’s presence in the territories is further delegitimized and its self-defensive measures can be discredited. Israel could then be charged with occupying the territory of a foreign state.

[...]

Abbas’ goal, it seems clear, is not to create a Palestinian state living peacefully side by side with Israel, but to replace Israel. The problematic nature of his present démarches can be readily seen if one takes into account the following:

1) Abbas refuses to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state, since that would be to recognize Israel’s rights in the Land of Israel.  [...]

2) Jewish links to the Land of Israel are consistently and unabashedly denied.  [...]

3) In his New York Times op-ed last year, he explained candidly that his quest for UN membership for Palestine was linked to lawfare.  [...]

4) Despite recent murmurings, later denied, Abbas has not disassociated himself from insistence on the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees (claimed by now to be some seven million people). [...]

5) He continues to complain that Palestinians have suffered “under occupation for 63 years” – since Israel’s creation, not since 1967 – [...]

6) Abbas’ [...] failure to retract his doctoral dissertation, completed at Moscow University, that is devoted to denying that the Holocaust ever occurred.  [...]

7) Abbas and the PA that he heads have regularly glorified terrorists,

[...]

In sum, the present Palestinian bid for General Assembly acceptance of Palestine as a nonmember observer state in the UN is part of a process of bringing about the replacement of Israel with a Palestinian state extending from the coast to the Jordan River. This maneuver patently violates United Nations law and international law.

This attitude was expressed over a year ago by the Palestinian ambassador to Lebanon who declared that Palestinian “refugees” will not be allowed to return to “Palestine“. They will have to sit and wait patiently in their refugee camps until they can return to Israel, presumably when Israel capitulates or is destroyed.

The ambassador unequivocally says that Palestinian refugees would not become citizens of the sought for U.N.-recognized Palestinian state, an issue that has been much discussed. “They are Palestinians, that’s their identity,” he says. “But … they are not automatically citizens.”

This would not only apply to refugees in countries such as Lebanon, Egypt, Syria and Jordan or the other 132 countries where Abdullah says Palestinians reside. Abdullah said that “even Palestinian refugees who are living in [refugee camps] inside the [Palestinian] state, they are still refugees. They will not be considered citizens.”

Abdullah said that the new Palestinian state would “absolutely not” be issuing Palestinian passports to refugees.

Neither this definitional status nor U.N. statehood, Abdullah says, would affect the eventual return of refugees to Palestine. “How the issue of the right of return will be solved I don’t know, it’s too early [to say], but it is a sacred right that has to be dealt with and solved [with] the acceptance of all.” He says statehood “will never affect the right of return for Palestinian refugees.”

The right of return that Abdullah says is to be negotiated would not only apply to those Palestinians whose origins are within the 1967 borders of the state, he adds. “The state is the 1967 borders, but the refugees are not only from the 1967 borders. The refugees are from all over Palestine. When we have a state accepted as a member of the United Nations, this is not the end of the conflict. This is not a solution to the conflict. This is only a new framework that will change the rules of the game.”

The New York Times warns the Palestinians that the price of a UN vote for a Palestinian State might be very high:

But even if the Palestinians win the vote, the price may be high. After membership in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization was granted last year, Israel withheld millions of dollars in tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority — which is in financial distress — and the United States halted financing to Unesco and withheld millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinians.

Earlier this month, Israel warned that if the resolution passed, it could cancel the 1993 Oslo accords, oust President Abbas and dismantle the Palestinian Authority. Some in Congress have also threatened more sanctions.

The general feeling though (as seen in Netanyahu’s quote at the beginning of this post) is that the declaration of a Palestinian state at the UN is not going to change anything on the ground.

Ynet reports: Americans trying to do damage control ahead of the UN vote:

A Palestinian resolution that would change the Palestinian Authority’s UN observer status from “entity” to “non-member state,” like the Vatican, is expected to pass easily in the 193-nation UN General Assembly.

Israel, the United States and a handful of other members are planning to vote against what they see as a largely symbolic and counterproductive move by the Palestinians.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is in New York ahead of the vote, said that that he resisted overwhelming pressure to withdraw the bid. He stated he isn’t scared of Israeli threats and therefore has not bolstered the security around him.

“If Israel wants to hurt me it can, because I live under an occupation like all Palestinians,” he said.

Oh, how he would love that. Anything to become a real martyr for the cause. He knows that Israel won’t touch a hair on his head. What a hypocrite.

Interestingly, even the Palestinians themselves don’t all agree on the move:

Despite reports that Hamas and the Islamic Jihad are behind Abbas in his statehood bid, spokespeople for the groups made it clear there is no extensive support for the move.

“The UN bid doesn’t have practical significance,” said Mushir al-Masri, a Hamas spokesman. “The Palestinian Authority didn’t poll the public before making its decision. A UN request should be based on a Palestinian consensus.”

The Islamic Jihad’s Abdullah al-Shami added: “We will never support Abbas’ UN bid. Our goal and our ideals extend beyond the UN General Assembly.”

The PA also stands to lose out financially if the vote goes ahead and passes:

The United States and Israel say a Palestinian state can only emerge from bilateral negotiations which have been frozen since September 2010.

State Department spokeswoman Nuland warned “that no one should be under any illusion that this resolution is going to produce the results that the Palestinians claim to seek, namely to have their own state, living in peace next to Israel.”

UN agencies admit the Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority could lose hundreds of millions of dollars in financing because of the vote. US law prohibits funding for any international body that recognizes a Palestinian state.

Washington has warned Abbas he risks losing around $200 million in development aid which is currently blocked in the US Congress.

Israel has been weighing countermeasures such as potentially freezing the transfer of tax and tariff funds it collects on their behalf, while some ministers have raised the idea of cancelling the 1993 Oslo peace accords.

And a foreign ministry policy paper even suggested “toppling” the Palestinian Authority.

But a ministry spokeswoman said Israel would most likely not take any punitive measures – unless the Palestinians used the upgrade “as a platform for confrontation.”

“Israel’s reaction to the Palestinian move depends on what they choose to do. If they use this resolution as a platform for confrontation, we will have to act accordingly,” said Ilana Stein in reference to any move at the ICC.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is in New York to meet with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

Lieberman addressed the upcoming Palestinian UN bid to upgrade its status to that of a non-member state, saying “Even though the Palestinians are guaranteed a majority of the votes, in reality they will end up being the greatest losers.”

The Times of Israel takes a closer look at Abbas’ motivations and the threat of Israel being taken to the ICCJ (International Court of Criminal Justice) for alleged “war crimes”.

Will the Palestinian Authority use the political capital garnered from a UN-granted diplomatic victory to come to the negotiating table? Or, as Shaath seemed to suggest to a Hamas rally last week and Abbas at his previous UN appearance, will it use the bid to launch one more front against Israel while refusing to negotiate?

[...]

Even if the optimists are right and the PA is going to the UN with the best intentions to negotiate afterwards, will the PA be able to resist the temptation, and the titanic pressures from opposing Palestinian factions, to attempt to drag Israel before international courts rather than sit down to peace talks? And even if it somehow manages to resist such pressure for the sake of negotiations, presumably at great cost to its domestic standing, will Israel face the same ICC investigations regardless, pushing Israel away from any talks in the face of a renewed “lawfare” challenge?

I conclude this sorry tale with a very politically incorrect opinion piece from the Algemeiner: Why I don’t want a Palestinian state (emphases are mine):

Well, I don’t want a Palestinian state, not now and not any time in the foreseeable future, and if you do, then you either haven’t thought about it properly or, well, that’s the only option, because the whole idea is really quite straightforwardly loopy, as I hope will become clear.

The reason why I don’t want the Palestinians to have a state is not because it’s not their land, or because they don’t have a right to self-determination or because its forbidden according to Jewish law to hand over parts of the land of Israel, or even because it would pose a security threat. You can argue with any of that if you want. The reason I don’t want a Palestinian state is quite indisputable, but its indisputability is only matched by the extent to which it is taboo, the degree to which even to utter it, nay, even to think of it, is to trample on innumerable orthodoxies of our age.

The reason I don’t want a Palestinian state is because they will make a big fat mess of it.

[...]

What exactly is it about the recent history of the Middle East that leads us to think the forthcoming Republic of Palestine is going to be a real goer of a place? Is it the rich and fascinating constitutional history of Iraq? Or perhaps our hopes are based on the thriving economic powerhouses that are Egypt and Syria? Maybe it is Libya that provides a model for a future stable Arab democracy? Or Saudi Arabia, or Bahrain or Somalia or (who knows) maybe it is that epitome of peace and prosperity, Sudan, upon which we ground our unquestioning hopes?

[...]

Now, when we turn our attention to the Palestinians, a moment’s inspection suggests that their chances of forming a functioning country are rather worse even than the regional average. One possible candidate for power in this future metropolis is Fatah, who resemble nothing so much as a particularly corrupt and incompetent version of a Latin American drug cartel, and the other is Hamas.

Read the rest and laugh. And weep.

This entry was posted in International relations, Mideast news and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The Palestinians’ bid for a state at the UN – davka on 29th November

  1. normanf says:

    The Likud apart from Netanyahu, is opposed to the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state.

    The extremism of the Palestinian Arabs has a silver lining – no future Israeli Prime Minister will agree to give them a state. Netanyahu is the last Oslo Era Israeli Prime Minister who would agree to a so-called “two state solution.”

    In reality, the Arabs don’t want a state alongside Israel, they want to destroy Israel. With today’s UN vote, what is left of Oslo is dead and buried. There will be no peace in the Middle East in our lifetime.

    • anneinpt says:

      Yes, the Likud is opposed to a Palestinian state. But Bibi was too, before he was for it. How can we trust our politicians any more? The left wing become ever lefter, and the right wing – we vote for right and we get left anyway. It was Bibi who imposed the settlement freeze, who said he supported a Palestinian state. What else could go wrong?

      I agree with you that the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity – but somehow it always rebounds back in Israel’s face. So I’m not dancing with glee right now. I’m taking a wait and see attitude with a lot of suspicion added.

      And yes, absolutely, the Arabs do not want a state of their own. They could have had it 65 years ago. They’re trying to turn the clock back, as ever, and get a re-do of history. I would say it doesn’t work that way, but hey – look, it’s working for them today at the UN.

      And you’re right, until they want to build their own state instead of trying to destroy ours, there will be no peace in the Middle East ever, not in our lifetimes and not in our children’s or grandchildren’s.

  2. Earl says:

    Notwithstanding his regrettable political affiliation, Irwin Cotler (Montreal MP-L) has an excellent overview in today’s National Post:

    http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/11/29/irwin-cotler-palestinian-search-for-higher-un-status-will-undermine-hopes-of-statehood/

    A commenter suggests Cotler is involved with Anne Bayefsky’s UN Watch, which would be no surprise.

    • anneinpt says:

      Thanks for that excellent link from Cotler. He explains the absurdity and danger of this statehood bid so clearly – and yet, despite the justice of his words, despite the reams of newsprint spent in deriding and condemning the Palestinian move, it will almost definitely go through, and it will almost definitely have no negative impact on the Palestinians – you can be sure that their supporters in the UN and Israel’s opponents will make sure of that. You can also be sure that it will have loads of negative impact for Israel. Whenever the UN is involved, Israel suffers. That’s a given law of nature, just like one gets wet in the rain.

      I love Irwin Cotler. I wish he could be a minister or politician in Israel. Or just an advisor to Bibi or the government.

      And yet, his words are not going to have any impact. I think even if Obama himself were to stand up in public and loudly condemn this move (he’s gone pretty far anyway, much further than I ever dreamed likely) it would not have any effect on the Palestinians’ supporters, who act more out of blind hatred for Israel than any love for the Palis.

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