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At his year-end press conference on December 17, 2010, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told reporters that he has “tried to be very objective and fair and balanced on all matters.” (Given his use of the “fair and balanced” catchphrase that has become the hallmark of Fox News, maybe he is even watching the conservative news channel.)
However, the secretary general was anything but fair and balanced when it came to his remarks on the stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. He blamed the lack of any substantive progress solely on Israel’s refusal to freeze all settlement building. And he did not discourage unilateral action by the Palestinians to obtain recognition of an independent state on their terms.
“Israel must meet its obligation to freeze all settlement activity, including in East Jerusalem,” Ban Ki-moon said.
The Obama administration, which has taken a similar position for months, abandoned its own negotiations with Israel regarding Israel’s renewal of a moratorium on West Bank settlement construction in exchange for an American letter of guarantees. Yet the issue is still being exploited to justify Palestinian intransigence.
The settlements issue was just another excuse used by the Palestinians to avoid any meaningful substantive negotiations. Indeed, they waited until virtually the end of the ten-month moratorium on West Bank settlements to even enter into direct talks with Israel. They then spent much of their time during the brief period of direct negotiations pressing Israel to extend the moratorium, without offering any concessions of their own.
The Palestinian strategy is evidently to run out the clock until they believe they have the infrastructure in place to unilaterally declare statehood on their own terms and have a critical mass of countries willing to recognize their state.
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has declared a summer 2011 deadline for Palestinian statehood. This would be just in time for a likely summit meeting of world leaders at UN headquarters in New York next September. The occasion will be the so-called “Durban III” commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the Israel-bashing UN World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance, which was held in Durban, South Africa. Durban III, which can be expected to portray the Palestinians as innocent victims of alleged Israeli apartheid, will coincide with the opening of next fall’s General Assembly session.
The stage will be set for a General Assembly resolution recognizing the state of Palestine within the pre-1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital.
The United Nations establishment appears to be on board with this strategy, which is intended to short-circuit Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and force Israel into further isolation as a pariah state if it doesn’t accede to the “demands” of the international community immediately.
For example, the UN’s Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry told Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Fayyad that “All international players are now in agreement that the Palestinians are ready for statehood at any point in the near future. We are in the home stretch of your agenda to reach that point by August next year, and you have our full support.”
When asked whether he opposes or supports those countries who are now unilaterally recognizing the Palestinian state rather than waiting for the Palestinians and Israelis to work out their differences, Ban Ki-moon gave no direct answer. After making a pro forma reference to the UN’s role in peace-making efforts as part of the Quartet on the Middle East (which also includes the United States, Russia and the European Union), he declared that the “Palestinians have an inalienable right for their independence and establishing such an independent state.” He said nothing about Israeli civilians’ inalienable right to live in peace and security.
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