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President Obama closed his speech by affirming the United States’ dedication to partnering with the United Nations to continue finding new paths to peace. But he said not a single word about holding the United Nations accountable for sponsoring anti-Semitic, anti-Western hatefests like the Durban conferences that purport to oppose racism. He said not a word about the need for serious reform at the UN, which American taxpayers are subsidizing to the tune of several billion dollars a year.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy laid out what he described as intermediate steps towards a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians in his speech to the General Assembly. Just as he had taken over leadership in dealing with the Libyan crisis from President Obama, Sarkozy was moving to do the same with respect to restarting the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. In a slap against American diplomatic efforts to date, Sarkozy said that “we must stop believing that a single country, even the largest, or a small group of countries can resolve so complex a problem. Too many crucial players have been sidelined for our efforts to succeed.”
Sarkozy proposed that France host a donor conference this fall so that the Palestinians can complete the construction of their future state.
To avoid a U.S. Security Council veto of the resolution to grant the Palestinians full UN membership rights – a veto that Sarkozy predicted would spark violence – the French president proposed the intermediate step of granting the Palestinians observer state status through the General Assembly. He envisions that such status would give the Palestinian people more hope while negotiations on a final peace agreement proceed, which would be based on the pre-1967 territorial lines with mutual land swaps that President Obama proposed last May.
“My dear colleagues,” Sarkozy said, “we have no other choice: inaction and deadlock, or an intermediate solution that would help restore hope to the Palestinians, with the status of observer state.” He continued:
At the same time, Israel must observe the same restraint—it must refrain from any actions that would jeopardize the final status. The ultimate goal is of course the mutual recognition of two nation states for two peoples, established on the basis of the 1967 borders, with agreed on and equivalent exchanges of land.
Sarkozy proposed the following timetable to reach the end state:
- One month to resume discussions;
- Six months to reach an agreement on borders and security; and
- One year to reach a definitive agreement
Behind-the-scenes negotiations are reportedly underway to let the Palestinians file their application for UN membership with the Security Council this week, but not press for a vote right away. The application would be held in abeyance, perhaps by being lodged with a member admissions committee for extended consideration, while Israel and the Palestinians return to the negotiating table. In the meantime, as Sarkozy suggests, the Palestinians could be given observer state status, which would allow them to join various UN bodies, such as the UN Human Rights Council, and be heard by the International Criminal Court.
Sadly, all this maneuvering ignores the fundamental stumbling block that has prevented peaceful co-existence of a Palestinian state and Israel for 63 years. It is the Palestinians’ refusal to deal in good faith with Israel on a basis that will allow Israelis to live in peace in their own Jewish homeland, after having been persecuted in so many countries around the world for so many years, including by Arab states.
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