Obama tells UN to consider Israel’s security re Palestinian statehood – but do the Palestinians really want a state?

Obama's speech to UN

Obama's speech to the opening session of the UN

Kicking off the UN’s new General Assembly session, US President Obama’s speech made a refreshing change in his tone towards Israel and its security needs, as the JTA reports:

President Obama appealed to the United Nations to recognize Israel’s security concerns in considering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“We believe that any lasting peace must acknowledge the very real security concerns that Israel faces every single day,” Obama said in his address Wednesday to the U.N. General Assembly plenary.

Obama repeated his administration’s calls on the Palestinians not to use the United Nations as a vehicle for achieving statehood, and called for Israel and the Palestinians to return to talks based on the parameters he outlined May.

“Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations,” he said.

“Let’s be honest: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. Israel’s citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses. Israel’s children come of age knowing that throughout the region other children are taught to hate them. Israel, a small country of less than 8 million people, looks out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map. The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries of exile, and persecution, fresh memories of knowing that 6 million people were killed simply because of who they are,” he said.

“Those are facts. They cannot be denied. The Jewish people have forged a successful state in their historic homeland. Israel deserves recognition. It deserves normal relations with its neighbors. And friends of the Palestinians do them no favors by ignoring this truth, just as friends of Israel must recognize the need to pursue a two-state solution with a secure Israel next to an independent Palestine.”

Obama also called for U.N. Security Council sanctions on Syria. Unlike his references to insurgencies in Bahrain and Yemen, he did not repeat his earlier calls for a democratic transition in Damascus, a sign that his administration has given up on trying to broker a transition with Syria’s current ruler.

Whether expressed out of conviction or for re-election purposes, I am nevertheless impressed that Obama reminded the UN of Israel’s daily security problems, and that he reiterated his call to the Palestinians to abandon their bid for statehood at the UN instead of resuming negotiations with Israel.

The Daily Telegraph expands further:

“There is no short cut to the end of a conflict that has endured for decades. Peace is hard work,” he said.

“Ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians who must live side by side. Ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians – not us – who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them: on borders and security, on refugees and Jerusalem.

“Peace depends upon compromise among peoples who must live together long after our speeches are over, and our votes have been counted. That is the lesson of Northern Ireland, where ancient antagonists bridged their differences. That is the lesson of Sudan, where a negotiated settlement led to an independent state, and that is the path to a Palestinian state.

The political implications for Obama are not clear-cut and he was obviously walking a tightrope between reassuring Israel and encouraging the Palestinians while deterring their statehood bid:

Mr Obama faces the daunting challenge of reasserting Washington’s influence in the region by dissuading the Palestinians from going ahead with a push for statehood in the UN Security Council this week in defiance of Israeli objections and a U.S. veto threat.

He said the United States remained as committed as ever to establishing an independent Palestinian state, but would never flinch from defending Israel’s security.

His public line towards the Palestinians was a little softer than expected, and he refrained from issuing an open threat to use the US veto to block the PA’s statehood bid.

The article goes on to discuss the ramifications of the Palestinians declaration of statehood:

US officials are conceding that they probably cannot prevent Mr Abbas from presenting a request to the UN Security Council for full Palestinian membership. But the Americans, British and French are urging the Palestinians to agree to a delay of at least several months before the issue is heard.

In the meantime, it is hoped the Israelis could be brought back to the negotiating table. Talks towards the creation of a fully-fledged Palestinian state consisting of the West Bank and Gaza collapsed in acrimony in September 2010.

The Obama administration has pledged to veto any Palestinian statehood bid, arguing that only direct peace negotiations with Israel, not a UN vote, would allow the Palestinians to achieve the benefits of statehood. It is however wants to avoid using its veto at the Security Council because doing so would contradict the ideals of the Arab spring it has so conspicuously supported.

Perhaps the US Administration, and specifically the State Department, should have been more prudent in their enthusiasm for the Arab Spring until its full effects, including extremist Islamist leaderships and chaotic social and political upheaval, became clear.

Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN called the Palestinian push for recognition by the world body “an unwise and diversionary gambit”.

“There is not short cut to statehood, no magic wand or piece of paper that can be waved at the UN that changes conditions on the ground for the Palestinian people,” she told CBS. “Even the Palestinians know that they have to get back to negotiating table or there won’t be a Palestinian state.”

She is assuming that the Palestinians really want a state, which is not altogether obvious. See the end of this post for more about this.

She said that gap in expectations among Palestinians created by the push for statehood risked destabilizing the region, because the day after the application was submitted, nothing would change.

Again, that seems to be the general idea for the Palestinians. They are acting like children who haven’t received enough adult attention, so they are throwing a diplomatic temper tantrum, being “naughty” and going all out in their attempt at statehood despite being begged, pleaded and threatened not to, and even though they themselves admit it won’t be successful. But what they have managed to do is make themselves the center of attention of the entire world, and how they are lapping it up! But for what?

Opening the general assembly, when leaders and delegates from the 193 members of the UN converge on New York, Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary General, pleaded for a new international effort to break the Middle East “stalemate”.

But he did not back the Palestinian statehood bid. “We have long agreed that Palestinians deserve a state, Israel needs security, Both want peace.

This is contrary to what has been reported in the press recently: Ban Ki Moon tells the PA he supports their statehood bid. I wonder if he has really backtracked or if he is just trying to be politically correct.

Getting back to the central topic of discussion at the UN and in the media, the general assumption everywhere is that the Palestinians are just desperate for a state to take in all those sad refugees, including 3rd, 4th and even 5th generation refugees whose Arab brothers have heartlessly refused to absorb in any way.

The truth is that the Palestinians don’t really want a state as much as they want Israel not to be a state.  In a startling interview in the Lebanese Daily Star newspaper, the Palestinian Ambassador to Lebanon declares that the new state of Palestine would refuse to accept Palestinian refugees as citizens of the new “state”:

From behind a desk topped by a miniature model of Palestine’s hoped-for blue United Nations chair, Ambassador Abdullah Abdullah spoke to The Daily Star Wednesday about Palestine’s upcoming bid for U.N. statehood.

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.

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.”

How much clearer does it need to be made that the Palestinians do not want a state in order to house their poor displaced refugees. They want those refugees to have the “right of return” to Israel in order to destroy it.  The ambassador openly declares that this will not be the end of the conflict.

So what need for their precious state? That will simply be another cudgel with which to bash Israel in international forums on the way to destroying it.

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13 Responses to Obama tells UN to consider Israel’s security re Palestinian statehood – but do the Palestinians really want a state?

  1. Judypt says:

    Everyone is mouthing the mantra of two state solution, actually it really comes down to a FOUR state solution, Israel,Gaza, P.A,and Jordan.It is no secret that the “salami” method to dstroy Israel is behind this bogus bid at the U.N.The “palestians” keep asking for new negotions and then put forward a list of conditions they know are anathema for Israel to accept.They want a new Freeze but when we did that they refused to come to the table so what is the point of discussing anything with them.The crocodile tears for the “refugees” mean nothing as they only want to overun Israel with a hostile group to destroy us from the inside.Jordan is threequarters arab palestinian it should become the joint federation of Jordan/Palestine at least they seem to have all the trappings of a viable state and would not need to worry about revolution all the time.

    • anneinpt says:

      I agree with you almost completely. The “almost” part is the “no need to worry about revolution in Jordan” part. Davka there the Palestinians tried to cause a revolution in the 1970s and were thrown out by King Hussein in Black September 1970. Also, the Arab Spring looks like it might be starting to make some inroads in Jordan so who knows how stable it is. However I agree that Jordan is the Palestinian state. It was ripped off from the territory intended for Israel and given to the Hashemites by the British to appease them for the “sin” of creating a Jewish state – which had been mandated by the League of Nations in the first place.

  2. Brian Goldfarb says:

    Please excuse me linking to an article in The Guardian (pe, pe, pe, and I’ve already washed my hands and my mouth out (separately) with a mouthful of rather decent red wine), but the headline an first couple of lines are fascinating: headline “Palestinians may be prepared to delay security council vote on statehood”, repeated in the first couple of lines in the article. I didn’t read beyond the first few lines, the headline was enough for me, and unfortunately The Times is behind a pay wall.

    Unlike, I suspect, many bloggers on this subject, I’ve never given up hope on Obama, bearing in mind a very powerful statement he made when still running for the Presidency in full support of Israel. I fear that much of the distrust (from those who don’t follow his actual words) comes from the same source as that of the Tea Party stalwarts. Indeed, he seems to be much firmer in his support of Israel than, say, Truman. I don’t think, for good reasons of realpolitik, that any US President has ever been truly anti-Israel, even when they found Israel a difficult partner to live with. But, hey, it’s a _Jewish_ state! You expect sweetness and light from 6 million Jews?

    • anneinpt says:

      I’m very much in 2 minds about Obama. He’s such an accomplished speaker that it takes a while to get beyond the musical sound of his words to the actual content. I don’t believe he is really antisemitic. I do believe he is a leftist socialist who thinks that all the ills of the world are the fault of White Western imperialist colonialism – and Israel is included in any one or more of those classes. And I do believe that he has some genuine antisemites amongst his advisors.

      At the end of the day he’s a politician who will say what needs to be said to get reelected. The democrats got mashed at the NY-09 by-election last week, and Obama and his party are waking up to the fact that the Jews are not very happy with his stance on Israel. I also give him the benefit of the doubt that the reality of the Arab uprisings are starting to sink in, and it turns out that they are not all pink ponies and rainbows, but nasty Islamic extremists with an anti-Western and anti-Israel agenda. This has led to something of a rethink.

      It’s a little too late but better late than never.

      • cba says:

        Your first paragraph pretty much sums up MY feelings about Obama (except I’m still not convinced about his oratorical abilities–he delivers a great speech, but is stunningly inarticulate when speaking “off-teleprompter”).

  3. Brian Goldfarb says:

    By the way, while in this area, if you haven’t seen and heard Obama’s speech to both Houses of (the UK) Parliament, it’s well worth a chunk of your time. As well as a quick stroke for us Brits (his father or grandfather was a cookhouse wallah for the British army), it’s a masterful tour d’horizon for the free world.

    Watch and enjoy.


  4. Alex Mitchell says:

    I do not think there is one reasonably inteligent person who is not aware that the entire Arab world wants the destruction of the state of Israel. Because the alternative is to give Arabs a decent way of life. It is cheaper to build up hatred of Israel and give thier people the state of Israel..
    What do the 3 million Israeli Arabs think about living in Israel?? who have in Israel all the privileges the Jews have, who have a strong party in government, etc etc

    • anneinpt says:

      Thank you for your comment Alex and welcome to my blog.

      do not think there is one reasonably intelligent person who is not aware that the entire Arab world wants the destruction of the state of Israel.

      Don’t underestimate people’s stupidity. Also, it is the the people who deny the Arabs’ intentions who make the most noise and get the media’s attentions.

      Because the alternative is to give Arabs a decent way of life. It is cheaper to build up hatred of Israel and give thier people the state of Israel..

      Bingo! You hit the nail on the head.

      What do the 3 million Israeli Arabs think about living in Israel??

      All recent polls show that if given the choice of staying in Israel or moving to a new State of Palestine, the vast majority of Israeli Arabs and Palestinians would choose to remain in Israel. They’re not stupid.

  5. Alex Mitchell says:

    The Arabs have been domiciled in the region for 2000 years. Why have they decided 63 years after the forming of The State Of Israel that they must have a state of thier own. It is because that the Arab leaders have subjugated thier own people and is only now that the majority of the ordinary Arab can see that democracy works. The only Arabs that live in a democracy are the 3 million Arabs that are Israeli Arabs who have all the advantages of living in a free democratic society

  6. cba says:

    While accepting Alex’s general point, I’m pretty sure there are about 1.5 million Arab Israelis, not 3 million.

    • anneinpt says:

      I think it depends on who is doing the counting, and which part of the Palestinian areas are counted: West Bank only, or including Gaza. And also, major fraud has been discovered in the polling methods (surprise surprise). People were counted twice (being in Gaza and the West Bank, or in the “diaspora” and the West Bank etc.). See here and here for example.

      I would also quibble slightly with Alex’s point about the timing of the demand for a state. The Arabs are not asking for a state now because they can see that democracy works. They’ve known that all along. It is not the ordinary people who are demanding a state – they are too downtrodden by their own leaders for that. It is the Palestinian leaders whoa re demanding a state because they have figured out that they can’t destroy Israel by military means so now they are going to try by diplomatic means. And it is not a sudden thing. It has been simmering in the background for years, ever since the cursed Oslo accords and even before that.

  7. Pingback: Europe declares Palestinians “Partner for Democracy” | Anne's Opinions

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