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In the meantime, those arguing for a General Assembly observer state vote now believe that it could be just the jolt that is needed to push the parties towards a final resolution of their differences. This may well be how the Obama administration tries to spin the General Assembly vote after the fact.
The problem with such specious reasoning – aside from the potential complications of opening the door to ICC involvement in a political territorial dispute – is that it puts the cart before the horse. A General Assembly vote recognizing Palestinian statehood will be on the Palestinians’ terms. It would ratify all of the Palestinians’ claims regarding the reversion to pre-1967 borders, East Jerusalem and the so-called “right of return.”
Instead of begging the Palestinians not to go forward with their plans for a UN vote on Palestinian statehood, the Obama administration should have been resolute from the beginning in pointing out publicly and repeatedly that the General Assembly cannot supplant the authority of the Security Council on the issue of recognizing a Palestinian state for any purpose. Security Council Resolution 242, which is still in force, calls on the parties to the conflict to negotiate a solution to create “secure and recognized boundaries.”
Article XII of the United Nations Charter clearly states that while the Security Council is “exercising in respect of any dispute or situation the functions assigned to it in the present Charter, the General Assembly shall not make any recommendation with regard to that dispute or situation unless the Security Council so requests.”
Security Council Resolution 242 sets forth how the path to resolution of the territorial dispute, which is a pre-requisite to Palestinian statehood, is to proceed.
Eugene V. Rostow (distinguished fellow at the United States Institute of Peace, and former US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs), who was involved first-hand in the drafting of Resolution 242, explained the intent of the Security Council resolution this way:
Resolution 242, which as undersecretary of state for political affairs between 1966 and 1969 I helped produce, calls on the parties to make peace and allows Israel to administer the territories it occupied in 1967 until “a just and lasting peace in the Middle East” is achieved.
In other words, international recognition of Palestinian statehood must come only after there is a “just and lasting” negotiated resolution between the parties of the territorial boundaries issue, not before it. Recognition of a Palestinian state with a government comprised of Hamas terrorists, who refuse to recognize Israel and call for it to be destroyed and replaced by an Islamic state covering all of historic “Palestine,” flies in the face of Security Council Resolution 242.
The General Assembly does not get to pre-empt the process the Security Council laid down pursuant to the Security Council’s powers under the UN Charter. The General Assembly has no legal authority to confer recognition of Palestinian statehood for any purpose based on the Palestinian definition of what the borders with Israel should be, unless first requested to do so by the Security Council.
President Obama will be coming to New York next week to address the UN General Assembly once again. Instead of repeating his bromides about peace and understanding that the Palestinians regularly ignore in practice, and instead of reiterating his call for more unilateral Israeli concessions, it would be so nice if the president told the General Assembly what they can do with their vote to recognize Palestinian statehood status. Obama, once the president of the Harvard Law Review and a law professor in Chicago, should reach into his legalese toolbox and tell the General Assembly unequivocally that their vote upgrading the Palestinians’ status to an observer state is void ab initio.
President Obama should also follow the lead of those in the U.S. Congress, who want to curtail aid to the Palestinian Authority if it presses forward with the statehood bid at the UN and cut funding to any UN agency that admits the Palestinians as a state with full voting privileges in that agency. Funding for General Assembly projects that target Israel should also be curtailed, including any funding that supports next week’s Durban III anti-Semitic “anti-racism” conference.
Of course, that is not likely to happen. Instead, expect to be treated to more of President Barack Obama’s empty rhetoric and continued pressure on Israel to make more concessions for a non-peace.
If President Obama is re-elected and no longer feels constrained by political considerations to worry about what Jewish voters will think of his stance towards Israel, we can also expect that by 2013, Palestine will be admitted as a full-fledged member state of the United Nations, with all rights and privileges, irrespective of the status of negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel. A Security Council resolution, approved by the United States, requiring Israel to abandon all West Bank territory and East Jerusalem or face potential economic and military consequences, will be likely to follow.
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