The U.N. Will Recognize a Palestinian State and Expose America’s Obstructionism

Originally published on Tikkun Daily
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According to a classified cable obtained by Haaretz, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, has informed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that Israel has no chance of preventing the U.N. General Assembly from recognizing Palestine as a state.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks at the 2007 World Economic Forum during a session entitled “Enough is Enough – Israel and the Palestinian Territories.” Photo by the World Economic Forum.

Prosor’s assessment is consistent with what has been observed for some time: that only a handful of U.N. member states plan to vote against the Palestinian initiative in the General Assembly, with an expected 130-140 countries voting in favor. And among Western nations, only five so far have pledged to vote against recognition of a Palestinian state: Italy, Germany, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and the United States.

Of those five countries, which nation stands alone in refusing to consider changing its voting stance if the Palestinians include language indicating a continued commitment to peace talks with Israel in its U.N. bid? The United States.

America’s isolation is stunning. But it gets worse.

The United States is the only country currently standing in the Palestinian Authority’s way in its push to attain full U.N. member status for Palestine. In order to become a full U.N. member state, the Palestinians must go through the U.N. Security Council (UNSC), which consists of 15 nations, five of which have veto powers. One of those five nations, China, recently stated publicly that it would vote in favor of Palestinian statehood in the UNSC. However, the Obama administration has made clear that it intends to veto any efforts by the PA in the UNSC, effectively blocking any chance for Palestine to become a state according to international law. (For U.N. resolutions dealing with statehood to be legally binding, they must first be passed by the UNSC.)

What remains uncertain is whether or not Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will formally go to the UNSC first and force the U.S. to cast its veto vote. Such a move would certainly be bold, for it would be done with the sole intention of highlighting America’s obstructionist and isolationist stance toward Palestinian statehood as the entire world watches.

While it’s unclear if Abbas will test the U.S. in this way, what is certain is that Abbas will seek a vote in the General Assembly for a nonbinding resolution calling upon the international community to recognize Palestine as a state. Such a resolution, while having no legal force, will almost certainly pass (with a U.S. “no” vote), and will be a symbolic victory for the Palestinians in the face of American opposition.

With peace talks between the PA and Israel stalled largely due to Netanyahu’s intransigence, and with settlement construction continuing apace, eating away at more and more of Palestinian land in the West Bank, the Palestinians had to make a move. And considering that the U.N. is the traditional forum where such issues can be resolved, it’s entirely appropriate for Abbas to be seeking statehood through the U.N.

What is entirely inappropriate, in my opinion, is the level of American obstructionism. The Obama administration claims that it cannot support such a unilateral move by the Palestinians. However, seeking statehood through the U.N., when all other options have been exhausted, is a multilateral move. The irony is that Israel’s continued, illegal settlement construction is unilateral, and yet this construction evokes from America nothing more than rhetorical slaps on the wrist.

The PA’s chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, has argued that U.N. membership could actually enhance the chances for a peaceful settlement with Israel in that it would legally force geopolitical issues, such as the occupation and settlements, to be resolved.

The Obama administration disagrees.

What happens after the U.N. vote is anyone’s guess, as not many parties seem to have thought through this process entirely, including the Palestinians.

However, whatever happens, one thing is sure: America will be on the outside looking in.

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Follow me on Twitter @David_EHG
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About David Harris-Gershon

David Harris-Gershon – a blogger for Tikkun magazine and a freelance writer on Israel, the Middle East and America’s role in the region – has recently published work in The Jerusalem Post, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, AlterNet, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Colorado Review and elsewhere. His memoir – What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife? – is forthcoming from Oneworld Publications (2013). He received his MFA from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, and has worked extensively as an educator, teaching creative writing and Israeli History / Jewish Studies in university and high school classrooms. Follow David on Twitter @David_EHG

Posted on August 29, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. It is high time that Palestine be recognized as an independent, free nation. Any agreements with Israel shud be between two nations–not by a powerful socialist theocracy and a group of fragmented, powerless refugees scattered thruout separated bantustans. The US shud stay out of this realization:
    ‘Wait longer and tryust us’ is a lie–Israel has no intention to recognize Palestine if it can avoid doing
    so. After recognition by the UN, Palestine shud invite/request UN Peacekeepers and cops move in to
    maintain security and aid humanitarian aid–and force the IDF and private goons OUT!..The ILA and
    the Palestine Land Commission [PLC] can gather around large-scale sandboxes and maps to solve
    the boundries and the few land-swaps and Ports of Entry between Israel and Palestine…The US shud
    keep its mouth shut and stay out of the way…Israel has a very serious internal problem with its ripoff
    economy, high costs of living, and oppressive ‘Basic Laws’ and government corruption…Its whine that
    it is the only democracy in its region is wearing out…Aaron Allen…

  2. i have a question . why cant palestine be a state ? what would be so devastating ?

  3. Hi Saxon: Your question is very appropriate–Palestine MUST become a sovereign [nation] state in order to conduct any meaningful agreements with Israel or anyone else…It’s maintenance as a scattered group
    of occupied and harassed ‘nobodies’ reminds one of the nazi progroms against the European Jews,
    the US ‘war’ against the 19th century Native Americans, and other, similar, outrages on all continents [ex-cept Antarctica]…Hopefully, most UN Members will welcome Palestine and help it achieve true freedom from Israel, which has other, more important, internal problems to solve…Aaron Allen…

  4. Could Palestine guarantee that they would not fire one single rocket into ISRAEL?

    NO, because they hate ISRAEL with a passion

  5. Hi Love: I don’t kmow about Gaza but I think that Pal North and South wud refrain from firing into Israel…
    If and when Israel and Palestine agree the boundries and easements or land swaps to allow Pal transport
    [on The ARC] from Hebron to North Gaza [double-track railway, 4-lane tollroad, 2-land [slower] frontage
    road, communications cables, waterlines, midway reststop/shop/police post]…Israel gets Rtes 1 East 5,
    and 443 [the ‘Road to Nowhere’], the ‘bulge’ [old ‘no mans’ land], and okay to build Third Temple as long
    as it does not violate ‘Dome’, museum, and Al Aqsa Mosque and Muslim acces thereto…Palestine gets
    the Atarot Airport…Other issues will be conducted by expert officials of departments of both nations–then
    formal agreement by The Knesset and The Pal General Assembly…UN Peacekeepers [White Euros,
    Black Africans, Oriental Far East Asians] and UN Police will help Palestine maintain peace and escort
    ALL IDF troops, Israeli cops, and private goons OUT!..’Gated Communities’ [settlements] will be guarded
    until their status is agreed…If UN troops and cops can land on Gaza seacoast, they will disarm any Pal
    renegades and sieze rockets and automatic weapons…Eventually all of Palestine will be disarmed [except
    for Pal Police and other permitted citizens]…No Israelis or Pals will be allowed to cross Ports of Entry
    without being checked by THEIR side first [vehicles and persons]!..Aaron Allen…
    status is agreed.

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