Daniel R. DePetris: The Political Docket

Palestinians Ask the U.N. for Help

Posted in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict by Dan on November 16, 2009

Palestinians to unilaterally declare their own state, pending U.N. Security Council approval

For all of those Israelis who thought the peace-process was solely in their hands, I am afraid you are mistaken.  According to reports from a top negotiator of the conflict, the Palestinians are revamping efforts to form an independent state through unilateral action.  The Associated Press confirms this story, commenting that a Palestinian delegation is expected to approach the U.N. Security Council on the issue of an autonomous Palestine free from Israeli control.

Even by Mideast peace standards, this is an unprecedented move by the Palestinians.  For the first time since the inception of the Middle Eastern peace process  (approximately 18 years ago) the ruling Palestinian coalition has reached a boiling-point over Israeli settlements in the West Bank; so much so that they have decided to ask for international help in solving the statehood problem.

The move is a clear indication of Palestinian devotion to the two-state solution.  If Israelis refuse to recognize the approach, then the Palestinians seem intent on going it alone.

Undoubtedly, this is more than a tactical move by the Palestinians, who have come to be viewed by the international community as the “whipping-boy” of the Israeli intelligence apparatus.  The appeal also possesses an inherent symbolic effect, particularly against America’s policy in the Middle East…a policy that has been categorized by many Arabs as biased towards Jerusalem.

However dramatic the move is, I am not sure that appealing to the United Nations is the right step.  A U.N. denial could not only have lasting ramifications for the Palestinian leadership…it could also strike a blow to their credibility as a legitimate negotiating partner.  The bright side to this deal, of course, is an internationally recognized Palestinian state and a public rebuke of Israel’s forceful nature.

With all of this being said, I am rather puzzled as to why Mahmoud Abbas would even consider declaring a unified Palestinian state at this point. Palestinian politics is perhaps at the most fragmented point in its history. Not only is the political process divided between two distinct entities, but the Palestinian people remain divided between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. This separation is not only due to geography; it also has something to do with intense Palestinian political loyalties.

From what I can gather, if you are a Palestinian who is semi-engaged in the political process, you are either a supporter of Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah Party or an advocate of the Hamas movement. There does not appear to be any moderation between the two camps…a development that is conductive to arrogance, stalemate, and an unwillingness to compromise on key issues. Abbas’ American-trained forces are still battling Hamas militants in the West Bank, and Hamas militants are still viewing Fatah as a corrupt American puppet. As long as this is happening, there is no chance for a unified Palestinian state, regardless if Fayyad declares one or not.

In addition, there is no question that the U.S. Government is going to veto this Palestinian declaration at the U.N. Security Council. President Obama probably does not want to alienate and anger the Israeli Government any more than he has over the past nine months. Recognizing a unilaterally declared Palestinian state- without the approval of Israel- would only add insult to injury to the P.M. Netanyahu. Of course, depending on which side you are on, this could either be a refreshing change in the U.S.-Israeli relationship (one that emphasis equality in the Middle East peace process rather than American submission); or it could be a setback for U.S. interests in the Middle East. These days, I tend to think that more people would agree with the former rather than the latter.

-Daniel R. DePetris


6 Responses

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  1. janbekster said, on November 16, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    Not to mention that Mr. Fayyad is neither a member of Fateh nor to that effect of Hamas. He is an independent politician. Therefore under the division of political belonging expressed by your good self, his chances of political survival with a UDI, would be less than a zero.

    khairi janbek.paris/france

    • Brett said, on November 16, 2009 at 12:49 pm

      He’s got next to no political support among the Palestinian populace, so it probably is safe to say that without Abbas as a patron (and the PA apparatus in general), Fayyad’s status is near-zero.

  2. bb said, on November 16, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    Personally my goodself as a lifetime non Jewish, secular, Left, zionist would dearly love to see Fayyad and Abbas unilaterally declaring the Palestinian state on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.

    They should reveal publicly whatever land swaps they have already backroom negotiated with Israel, and warmly offer the remaining Israeli settlers full Palestinian citizenship if they wish to remain in the West Bank.

    They should guarantee all Palestinian refugees citizenship in the new Palestinian state and challenge them as to why they would even want to live in Israel in the first place?

    They should publicly declare demilitarisation and a transition period of at least 5 years of whatever IDF presence they know after all these years of negotiations that Israel would regard as redline to meet its security anxieties. This should be represented as a plus not a minus.

    They should, in their declaration, declare that they accept Israel having sovereignity over the Wailing Wall, because they recognise why this so essential for the jews, as per the Clinton proposals of 2000/2001 and otherwise accept the Clinton proposal for the division of Jerusalem.

    They should demand Hamas immediately accept the PA’s recognition of Israel, renouncement of violence and recognise previous internatonally endorsed agreements.

    They should declare furthermore that now there is a unilateral declaration of the Palestinian state Hamas should immediately recognise the authority of the the PA and agree to its security forces being under the command and control of the PA.

    Finally, in the declaration, they should invite themselves on behalf of the newly declared Palestinian State to the Knesset in Jerusalem to put their proposals directly to the elected representatives of the Israeli people.

    Then, when they appear at the Knesset, which will happen soon after, they should declare their intention to put their proposals to referendum and request the Israeli parliament to do the same.

    In other words CARPE DIEM.

    Being loosely tgrasnlated as VICTIMS GET NOWHERE.

    Or, in the Australian vernacular: PUT IT UP THE BASTARDS. WHAT HAVE YOU GOT TO LOSE?

  3. David in DC said, on November 16, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    “That’s the harvest of the Egyptian (and American-driven) failure to achieve a national unity agreement between Hamas and Fatah…”

    Is anything, ever, the Palestinians fault?

    Just asking.

    • janbekster said, on November 16, 2009 at 12:51 pm

      if the Palestinians do not get their act together, and have no wish to be united, what can the Egyptians, the US, or any other party do, to help out?.

      khairi janbek.paris/france

    • Dan said, on November 16, 2009 at 12:51 pm

      Certainly Palestinians get blamed, as to the Israelis, Americans, and the Egyptians. All parties are at fault. The Arabs have neglected to formally recognize Israel as a Jewish state in the heart of the Middle East; the United States has refused to promote a level playing field between the Israelis and Palestinians since the Oslo Accords in 1993; the Israelis are aggressively pursuing their notion of a “Greater Israel” in the occupied territories; and the Egyptians seem ambigious in their resolve. It is not exclusively a Palestinian problem- as AIPAC would claim- although the Hamas-Fatah rivalry does not exactly help advocate peace along the way.

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