January, 2015 does not bode well for Israel at the United Nations (UN). The UN Security Council (UNSC) will officially induct five newly elected non-permanent member-states replacing outgoing Rwanda, S. Korea, Australia, Argentina and Luxembourg, representing all the global regions. Unfortunately for Israel, the incoming states, particularly Venezuela and Malaysia, are hostile to the Jewish state. The other three, Angola, New Zealand, and Spain are pondering their position on recognizing Palestine as a full member-state of the UN.
It is apparent that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will seize the opportunity and try to win an almost guaranteed majority on the UNSC, to grant Palestine full UN membership. In Abbas’ calculations, receiving UNSC recognition will enable him to demand that the UNSC set a deadline for Israel’s withdrawal to the 1967 line. At the same time, he’ll avoid having to negotiate peace with Israel, or make any concessions to the Jewish state.
The Palestinians need nine votes at the UNSC to win acceptance. They previously received seven. This time it appears that they may achieve their goal. Among the five permanent members, China and Russia are likely to support recognition of a Palestinian State. Britain and France are yet undecided, and the U.S will likely object.
Among the ten non-permanent states on the UNSC, Chad will support a Palestinian state, Chile is leaning towards acceptance, Lithuania is likely to object, and Nigeria is still undecided. Malaysia and Venezuela will definitely support the Palestinian quest. If we are to anticipate the votes of the undecided members based on their November 29, 2012 votes at the General Assembly, to accord Palestine “non-member Observer State status,” it is more than likely that Angola, Nigeria, and Spain will also vote for acceptance. This would give the Palestinians 10 votes and full membership in the UN.
The only thing that can prevent the acceptance of Palestine as a member-state of the UN is a U.S. veto. In lieu of the tense relationship between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government, Israel can no longer count on a US veto as a given. According to YnetNews.com (October 19, 2014) “Diplomatic officials said Israel is taking into bracing for a bad scenario in which the Democrats lose their Senate majority in the midterm elections, and will then be free of obligations, which might lead them to get back at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for all the public clashes with the Democratic administration at the White House.”
PM Benjamin Netanyahu told the Israeli parliament (Knesset) on Monday (October 27, 2014): “I don’t see pressure on the Palestinians. I see only pressure on Israel to make more and more concessions…The Palestinians are demanding of us to establish a Palestinian state – without peace and without security. They demand withdrawal to the 1967 lines, admitting refugees and dividing Jerusalem – and after all these exaggerated demands they are not prepared to agree to the basic condition for peace between two peoples – mutual recognition!”
The U.S. has been reluctant to use its veto power at the UNSC, especially the Obama administration. Yet, the Obama administration in February, 2011 cast its first-ever veto at the UNSC, blocking a Palestinian-backed draft resolution that denounced Israel's settlement policy as an illegal obstacle to peace efforts in the Middle East. In the case of a vote on Palestinian statehood, the U.S. is likely to pressure other UNSC member-states not to support the Palestinian move by offering alternatives such as the revival of peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel. But, the fact that President Obama this time is not seeking reelection, and is unlikely to be deterred by Republican criticism, America’s veto must be considered uncertain at best.
The Europeans are seeking to position themselves somewhere between the U.S. and the Palestinian position. While they may abstain in the vote on Palestinian statehood, they will demand a set of parameters for a permanent agreement that will eventually lead to a Palestinian state. These parameters might include Israel’s withdrawal to the June, 1967 line with land swaps and East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital.
According to the European Jewish Congress press, “France will abstain at the UNSC vote on Palestinian UN bid, and Britain will do the same.” The French Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that “While the region is experiencing upheaval, the legitimacy of the Palestinian aspiration for statehood is indisputable. However, the Palestinian request has no chance of success in the UNSC due, in particular, to the opposition expressed by the U.S.” In other words, the Europeans wish to exculpate themselves in appeasing the Arab-Muslim world and their own Muslim constituents, while putting the onus on the U.S.
The Europeans, the State Department, and New York Times to name a few, are unwilling to fully consider the consequences of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. Israel’s full withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, under unrelenting pressure from the above institutions, brought it numerous wars and unending terror. Israel removed 9,000 Jewish residents by force, destroyed their homes, but left their green-houses to the Palestinians. Hamas terrorists in Gaza have used the areas vacated by the Jewish residents as a base to lob over 10,000 rockets on communities throughout Israel.
A Palestinian state in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and Gaza is unlikely to be demilitarized, and Hamas can be counted on to take over within a short time. Iran would immediately rush in heavy arms, and as a sovereign state, these arms shipments would arrive unhindered by air or sea. This would mean that even short range rockets from east of Jerusalem will target and hit Israel’s main population centers, including its international Ben Gurion airport. Israel would be paralyzed, and its economy and security in shambles. Any Israeli government will be compelled to react with force, and that would bring about international condemnation by the UN, and possibly sanctions. In addition, one can anticipate a regional war that might involve Iran’s nuclear weapons, and tens of thousands of Hezbollah rockets fired at Israel.
At a press conference on July 11, 2014, Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu stated, “There cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the Jordan River.”
British PM David Cameron opined that, “We support Palestine having its own state next to a secure Israel…In the end we have to recognize we will get a Palestinian state alongside an Israeli state by the Palestinians and the Israelis sitting down and talking to each other.”
US Department of State Spokeswoman Jen Psaki stated at a press briefing Friday (October 3, 2014), “We believe international recognition of a Palestinian state is premature. We certainly support Palestinian statehood but it can only come through a negotiated outcome, a resolution of final status issues and mutual recognition by both parties. I don’t think that we’ve seen evidence that they’re willing and able to either at this point in time.”
Mahmoud Abbas has been greatly encouraged by the Swedish and British parliaments votes to recognize a Palestinian state. Moreover, the new makeup of the UN Security Council as of January, 2015 will give him a tailwind to push for statehood. Only a U.S. veto at the UNSC can stop this madness, and compel Abbas to negotiate with Israel in earnest. Perhaps, in the interim, the Palestinians can evolve into a civil society with the rule of law, discard terror and incitement against Israel, and build a viable economy.
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