Why I Support the Palestinian Request at the UN

When Mahmoud Abbas said last year he was going to ask the Security Council for recognition, I was at first opposed to the idea, thinking the price would be too high. I changed my mind, believing it might help light a fire under Israel. That didn’t happen, mostly because the bid itself failed.

And so I still support the Palestinian request for non-member state status. Mostly it’s because the Palestinian Authority under Fatah and Abbas is never going to get a shot at genuine negotiations so long as domestic conditions in Israel don’t change.

That’s not to say, of course, that only Israel is responsible for past failures and potential future progress. Nor do I think Israel should unilaterally withdraw from the West Bank.

But looking at Israel specifically, all I see are obstacles. The Israeli public is less interested in the Palestinians than it’s ever been. The electoral list that emerged from Likud’s primaries this week is composed of members who take a hard line on negotiations over land, settlements, and a Palestinian state. Given that the party is most likely to still be the core of a new coalition government, I’d guess we can expect even less government interest than there is now.

Israel, of course, argues that it’s always ready for negotiations. Yet the hard truth is that it’s not. It’s insistence that the PA recognize Israel as a Jewish state first is a red herring; worse, it’s an excuse to avoid talks. As has been argued by many countless times before, there is no necessary or good reason for the Palestinians to do this, and every reason not to. And it’s a precondition that Israel insists on even as it calls for Abbas to sit down without preconditions.

Israel’s insistence that settlements are not an obstacle to negotiations is also misleading. The reality is that, as facts on the ground, they shrink the potential land area open to negotiations. The Israeli government insists that any final agreement accounts for settlements blocs as part of Israel.  Yet the manner by which “neighborhoods” are spun off from existing settlements and then included as part of the settlement’s territory, plus the physical, legal, and security infrastructure that is built up around them, absorbs more and more land considered off-limits.

Progress on peace talks is essential for Israel’s well-being, too. World trends are moving against the occupation and the settlements. Hamas is growing stronger all the time. If it doesn’t get ahead of the curve, Israel’s ability to contribute to management of the conflict and shaping of outcomes will diminish.

There’s just no evidence that a successful Palestinian bid will change things for Israel for the worse. Rather, all the evidence points to the conclusion that not changing the status quo is the most dangerous for Israel.


3 thoughts on “Why I Support the Palestinian Request at the UN

  1. This is factually wrong. Israel insists that Palestine recognize Israel as a product of negotiations, not as a precondition. Netanyahu froze settlements for ten months, and PA wasted nine of those months and then said Israel is the one who doesn’t want to negotiate. The reason Abbas doesn’t negotiate is that he knows the public wouldn’t support it.

    By the way, does anyone remember what happened in 2000? Israel offered PA statehood in most of WB and Gaza with a capital in E Jerusalem, PA turned it down.

  2. Ron Prosor at the UN: “In fact, President Abbas, I did not hear you use the phrase “two states for two peoples” this afternoon. In fact, I have never heard you say the phrase “two states for two peoples”. Because the Palestinian leadership has never recognized that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people. They have never been willing to accept what this very body recognized 65 years ago. Israel is the Jewish state. In fact, today you asked the world to recognize a Palestinian state, but you still refuse to recognize the Jewish state.” http://www.timesofisrael.com/full-text-of-ron-prosors-speech-to-the-un-general-assembly-november-29-2012/

    Netanyahu (June 2011): “My friends, this must come to an end. President Abbas must do what I have done. I stood before my people, and I told you it wasn’t easy for me, and I said… ‘I will accept a Palestinian state.’ It is time for President Abbas to stand before his people and say… ‘I will accept a Jewish state.’ Those six words will change history. They will make clear to the Palestinians that this conflict must come to an end.” http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=222056

  3. You surprise me quite frankly because either you are disingenuous in order to prove your point or you dont seem to be learned on the subject you are writing about. Please follow below:
    1. Israeli’s are not interested in the Palestinians that much because after Oslo they have become disillusioned as to the Palestinian motives that is to say the illusion is gone and the hard realty is that the Palestinians basically have proven in word, deed and action they do not seek a peaceful end to this conflict.
    2. Israel’s insistance the Arabs recognize Israel as the Jewish state is not a red herring at all quite the opposite as with this recognition is the inherent understanding that the conflict will end and that instead of flooding Israel with millions of Arab refugees the Palestinians will have to absorb them in their own territory not in Israel.
    3. Settlements are not an obstacle to peace – the Palestinian demand that any territory under thier sovereignty will be “Judenrein” is the obstacle to peace. Arabs make up 20 percent of the Israeli population and have great swaths of territory mainly in the triangle and up north in Israel that are also quite strategic geographically to Israel and that area has suffered from disruption and violence on occasion.
    4 Thats the whole point of negotiation is to work out the give and take on both sides but the Arabs clearly have paralyzed the Peace process because they would like their postition agreed to by Isreal prior to even negotiating.
    5. Yes the UN bid did change things for the worse, as the Palestinians have now nullified the Oslo agreements and are proceeding on a path that pushes the Peace Process much farther off. Israel is isolated and diplomatically has little comfort from the World’s Nations – this makes for less wiggle room not more.

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